The Anglo-Russian parent company of one of the world’s largest aluminum producers has hired a Democratic strategist to lobby on lingering trade sanctions issues following a Donald Trump administration deal with former controlling owner Oleg Deripaska.
Energy and metals conglomerate EN+ Group, the parent company of Rusal, has hired the DCI Group to lobby on “issues related to trade and trade sanctions, generally and as they may apply to the independent Board and management of EN+ Group”; “issues related to manufacturing” and “issues related to the environment.” The lobbying registration was effective April 16.
Lobbying on the issue is DCI Group managing director Chad Horrell, a former Democratic campaign strategist who helped with Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Tim Kaine‘s 2005 successful race for governor of Virginia. Horrell did not respond to a request for comment.
The registration comes amid lingering concerns from some congressional Democrats over the Trump Treasury Department’s December 2018 deal to lift sanctions on EN+ Group and Rusal in exchange for Deripaska reducing his stake in the companies and the appointment of independent directors. The Treasury Department had sanctioned Deripaska and his companies in April 2018, accusing him of supporting the Kremlin’s “malign activity around the globe” including the occupation of Crimea, support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and attacks on Western democracies because of his close ties to President Vladimir Putin.
Deripaska himself remains under US sanctions. The DCI Group’s new lobbying registration states that he now controls 35% of EN+ Group voting rights and has a 44.95% ownership stake in the company, in line with the Treasury Department agreement.
Bloomberg however reported in December 2020 that European officials had informed their US officials that Deripaska retained “significant day-to-day influence” over Rusal and the EN+ Group and used company resources to support his personal business interests and the Kremlin’s agenda around the world, in violation of the Treasury Department agreement. The report sparked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), now the chairman of the Senate banking committee, to ask for a briefing with Treasury officials.
The En+ Group has denied the allegations in Bloomberg’s article.
“En+ Group remains fully in compliance with the Terms of Removal and … at no time have concerns been raised with us by OFAC or any other arm of the U.S. Treasury in relation to this article,” Christopher Burnham, the chairman of the company’s compliance committee, wrote in a May 19 letter to the editor. “We consider this matter closed.”
In addition to the DCI Group, Mercury Public Affairs has been registered to lobby for the EN+ Group since May 2019, with former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) taking the lead. The current contract is for $10,000 per month.
Lobbying records show Vitter contacted the Senate Banking Committee and staff for committee member Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) last year to discuss the August 2020 Senate Intelligence report. The report notably accused Deripaska of conducting “influence operations” abroad on Moscow’s behalf and of posing a counter-intelligence risk due to his past business connections to Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and Steele dossier author Christopher Steele.
Mercury previously lobbied from May 2018 to May 2019 on behalf of Gregory Barker of Battle, a British member of Parliament and former Minister for Energy and Climate Change who was appointed chairman of the Board of Directors of En+ Group in October 2017. The $108,500-a-month contract was paid for by the company.