Russian tycoon launches legal challenge against sanctions

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Businessman Oleg Deripaska has appealed against Australia’s decision to the country’s federal court

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has filed a lawsuit in an Australian court to challenge his inclusion in the country’s sanctions list, The Canberra Times reported on Monday.

The businessman has reportedly asked the Federal Court to review and overturn the government’s decision to list him as sanctioned, and has contracted former Australian attorney-general Christian Porter to loegally represent him.

The Australian government blacklisted Deripaska in March 2022 after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The decision, authorized by former foreign affairs minister Marise Payne, has prevented the founder of the world’s second-largest aluminum company, Rusal, from travelling to Australia or profiting from a shareholding in Rio Tinto-owned Queensland Alumina.

Rusal owns 20% of the alumina refinery located in Gladstone, Queensland through its Australian subsidiary Alumina and Bauxite Company, while 80% of the enterprise belongs to Rio Tinto Alcan.

In March last year, Australia banned supplies of alumina and aluminum ore to Russia. Rio Tinto later decided to sever commercial relations with Moscow and announced that it had gained full control of the Gladstone plant. Rusal appealed to the Australian court, demanding the return of its share in the enterprise.

Deripaska is now claiming that Payne had insufficient evidence and used irrelevant considerations to make the determination, while the Australian government was swayed by other “like-minded” countries’ sanctions, a verdict in a US court case, and vague, unsourced internet “gossip.”

The businessman had been previously been sanctioned by the US, the UK and Canada.

On Monday, speaking at the Perth courtroom Porter said that discretion should have been shown to his client and Ms. Payne had failed in her duties because she was not properly advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Australian government justified the restrictions against Deripaska by his “particularly close ties to President Putin,” and activities that were economically significant and strategic to Russia. Canberra also asserted that Deripaska previously said “that he does not separate himself from the Russian state” and “acknowledged possessing a Russian diplomatic passport”.

Deripaska called the allegations “vague” and unsubstantiated, adding that “their origin is unknown.” In a statement, he reportedly denied that he performed any functions of strategic importance for Russia. The businessman called the sanctions against him legally unjustified.

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