A day after President Donald Trump notified Congress that the sanctions bill it passed in August was sufficiently "serving as a deterrent", and that no new sanctions would be taken against individuals fingered in the bill, the Treasury Department quietly released the - now effectively meaningless - "Oligarchs List", to the relief of the Russian business and government elite.
Included in the list, which was published minutes before the midnight deadline, are 114 senior political figures, and 96 oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich - the owner of the Chelsea Football Club - Oleg Deripaska - purportedly a former client of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and tech entrepreneur Yuriy Milner.
According to the Financial Times, the Kremlin responded by saying the list amounted to a roster of "enemies of the United States," and had cast US-Russian relations into an "unprecedented situation."
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that President Vladimir Putin said the list complicates US-Russia relations, calling it "an unfriendly act." However, he said Russia would refrain from retaliating.
The Treasury Department was required to compile and publish a report on possible targets for US sanctions by a bill passed by Congress in August that was intended to make sure the Trump administration keeps pressure on the Kremlin over its military intervention in Ukraine.
After initially slipping following the publication of the list of names, Russian equities bounced back in early European trading as traders realized the list was less targeted than some had expected, or as some called it "much ado about nothing" and just a rehash of the Forbes richest Russians. By midday the Moex index of leading Russian shares was up 0.3%. The ruble climbed 0.1% to 56.25 to the dollar, bolstered by firming crude prices.
The list was compiled based on “objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources,” Treasury said, including those with net worth of $1 billion or more for the oligarchs and high official position for the senior political figures.
Notably, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the Financial Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"They just included everybody, all the big businessmen, all the major bureaucrats," said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Financial Group, a Moscow brokerage, told Bloomberg
Government officials listed ranged from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak to the heads of state companies and Kremlin representatives in Russia’s regions.
As RT pointed out, some businessmen appeared to make the list just because they were successful:
Arkady Volozh - Worth $1.1 billion, Volozh is the founder and CEO of the Russia’s largest IT company, Yandex. The company is Google’s main rival on the Russian market, offering various services like a search engine, smartphone apps, its own in-house maps and navigation systems, music streaming service, and taxi service.
Sergey Galitsky - Sergey Galitsky is the founder and CEO of Magnit – Russia’s biggest supermarket chain and cosmetics retailer with more than 14,000 stores. His net worth is $4.4 billion, according to Forbes estimates.
Oleg Tinkov - Oleg Tinkov is the founder and owner of Tinkoff Bank, which has issued 6.4 million credit cards and has an almost 10% market share in Russia. Working online mostly, Tinkoff claims to be the largest internet bank in the world. Oleg Tinkov is worth $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Yuri Milner - Russia’s most influential tech investor, Yuri Milner was an early investor in Facebook and Twitter. He is worth $3.5 billion, and has interests in Chinese tech companies, including online retailers Alibaba and JD.com, and smartphone producer Xiaomi.
Read the whole report below: