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Congress Democrats are aiming finance minister Steven Mnuchin over possible conflicts of interest



Democrats in Congress are narrowing down on finance minister Steven Mnuchin after his department's controversial decision to ease the sanctions against companies tied to a Russian oligarch tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with some raising questions about his personal business relations and the opportunity of the existence of conflicts of interest.

Democrats' desire to investigate possible conflicts behind Mnuchin's sanctions decision comes only two days after the Ministry of Finance announced Sunday that it was planning to sanction giant energy and aluminum companies associated with Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch. Treasury officials first released the emergency aid in December, although the decision to remove sanctions from Russian companies tied to Deripaska has been intensively investigated ever since it was proposed. Earlier this month, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to maintain sanctions, while a similar measure in the Senate dropped three votes without meeting the 60-vote threshold.

Sanctions on various Russian interests, including against Deripaska personally and companies tied to him, were announced in April in return for Russian interference in the presidential elections in 201

6, cyber attacks on US companies and Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its activities in the Crimea and in eastern Ukraine.

On Tuesday, as Mnuchin moved on with the plan to ease sanctions, Democrats in Parliament wrote to request "documents and records of entities and persons affected or benefiting" from the decision to remove companies EN +, Rusal and EuroSibEnergo from the sanction list. Late. Mark Warner (D-Va.), The Senate Intelligence Committee's Top Democrat, sent a similar request for information.

Democrats' request follows a letter from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), A member of the House Intelligence Committee who last week wrote to Mnuchin and expressed concern about a possible conflict of interest behind the treasury actions. Speier quoted Mnuchins reported sale of his stake in a film production company in June 2017 to Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian born billionaire and entertainment investor and an associate of Deripaska, who the secretary did to comply with the terms of the ethical agreement he entered into is confirmed as Finance Minister Bloomberg however, reported at the time that Mnuchin did not sell its stake to Blavatnik's Access Entertainment company, citing a person familiar with the case. And Blavatnik's spokesman told the New York Times, "There was never any contact between Mr. Blavatnik and Mr. Mnuchin in connection with the sale or operation of RatPac-Dune," who referred to the film production company.

In Her Letter to Mnuchin seeking information on the transaction, Spier wrote: "Given your business relationships with these people and your commitment to twice-delaying sanctions, weakening of penalties and finally proposing remedies from sanctions, there is clear a conflict of interest. " [19659002] In a tweet, Tony Sayegh, a spokesman for Mnuchin, said Speier's concerns "are marked by false information."

"As our answer to her letter clarifies, [Secretary Mnuchin] had no business relationship with Mr. Blavatnik and any suggestion of a conflict is fundamental," he wrote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the powerful house monitoring committee and later. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), The Top Democrat of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to Mnuchin on Wednesday and asked him the details of his "personal and business relationship" with Blavatnik and whether he took "some steps to minimize conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts." The lawmakers also requested Mnuchin to identify any detail that Blavatnik might have received from the sale of its stake in a film production company.


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