The Australian government has slapped sanctions on two Russian oligarchs with business interests in Australia, after initially leaving them off of Australia’s official sanctions list.
- Both men have involvement or stakes in resource projects in Australia
- They have already been sanctioned by the US and UK
- The government flagged earlier this week it was looking into how it could sanction the pair
Oleg Deripaska is the president of Russian aluminium company Rusal, which has a 20 per cent share in the Queensland Alumina Refinery in Gladstone.
Viktor Vekselberg has interests in a company working with Origin Energy to frack the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory.
Both have been added to Australia’s official sanctions list along with 20 Russian businesses, as part of the federal government’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.
They had already been sanctioned by the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the UK overnight, Mr Deripaska’s multi-million-dollar mansion was briefly occupied by a group of squatters who said they were reclaiming the property to house Ukrainian refugees.
Earlier this week, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews flagged possible sanctions while being mindful of the economic impact.
“Queensland alumina is very important to the Gladstone economy, it’s a very large employer in that town,” Ms Andrews told Sky earlier this week.
“We will be mindful of that but there is the bigger picture that we need to mindful of as well.
“If we need to continue to put those in place and more individuals are needed to have sanctions against them, then we will take action against them.”
According to the US government, Mr Vekselberg has a net worth of more than $6 billion.
His companies span multiple sectors in Russia and around the world.
But it is his close ties to President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian politicians that have seen him added to international, and now Australia’s, sanctions list.
Volodymyr Shalkivskiy, the head Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in Australia, called for the sanctions earlier this week.
“In Ukraine, it’s a matter of death and life for us, so we will continue to push for imposing harsh economic sanctions against Russia,” Mr Shalkivskiy told the ABC.
“Aluminium is used for the aircraft production and military jet production so it is important for us to have solidarity among our partners.”