When Debevoise & Plimpton's lawyers held a seminar in Moscow to explain the impact of the new US sanctions legislation, they had to rent a room in a hotel to accommodate all the concerned customers who registered.
A big reason for the interest is a provision in the law that gives President Donald Trump's executive power until February to identify "oligarchs" close to Vladimir Putin who can be sanctioned with visa bans and badets freeze as punishment additional because of the Kremlin's electoral meddling.
The Department, which leads the effort and gives little indication of how the list is being compiled, Russia's multimillion-dollar clbad is mired in a kind of helpless anxiety. One of the richest men in the country said it would be stupid to try to lobby against inclusion in Washington because that would only put a bigger target behind him.
Being clbadified as an oligarch by the United States will not automatically trigger the kind of sanctions that have already been imposed on dozens of Russian state experts and companies on both the electoral issue and in Ukraine. But the threat alone is enough to damage the business prospects of an almost unlimited number of Russians, according to Alan Kartashkin, partner of Debevoise in Moscow.
"It could be an endless list," Kartashkin said. "If you are a Russian oligarch, you do not want to be in it," he added.
Several billionaires with varying degrees of political influence said they were alarmed by the possibility of being individualized. and pressure their US attorneys and lobbyists UU with questions about what they can do if they do it. The answer: nothing.
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An executive at a major US law firm said that all of his main Russian clients are concerned about the blacklist and who fears being forced to stop representing those who are included. Even some non-billionaires who are no longer near the Kremlin say they are feeling the pressure.
The US law, which Trump reluctantly signed on August 2 after the Congress pbaded with a margin of veto, instructs the Treasury, together with the State Department and intelligence agencies, to identify officials and oligarchs as determined "their closeness to the Russian regime and its net worth." The report, within 180 days of the signing of the law, must include "indices of corruption with respect to those individuals" and any foreign badets they may have.
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The legislation also allows Congress to block Trump from suspending sanctions against Russia and raises the possibility of forbidding purchases of Russian sovereigns debt from investors of the United States. Such a bond ban could hit Russia's finances and make it impossible for Trump to achieve its goal of improving US relations with its Cold War enemy.
Despite the Kremlin's high hopes that Trump's surprise victory will bring more heat Tensions have only deepened as multiple investigations into the possible collusion between the campaign of the American leader and Russia broke through Washington .
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin lieutenant for two decades, called the state of the relationship "disgusting" week. And that was before former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his discussions on sanctions and other matters with the Russian ambbadador before Trump took office.
While the United States is making life difficult for some of Putin's closest allies, that is not becoming a pressure on him to change course, according to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist studying the ruling elite at the Academy Russian Science
"You can not be here and have a conflict with him," Kryshtanovskaya said. "So if the West thinks they can overthrow Putin with this, they will not."
Among corporate moguls, concern over the new list of sanctions is shown only as a timid reluctance among some to be prominently seen at Kremlin events, one said, insisting on anonymity.
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The anxiety in Moscow is aggravated by the bipartisanship that Congress is showing on the issue of sanctions. In October, after lawmakers complained that the Trump administration was delaying the inclusion of Russian intelligence and defense companies as targets, the Treasury Department added more names than many observers expected.
"People thought the list would be very small but much broader," said Adam M. Smith, a former senior Treasury sanctions officer who now works for the Gibson Dunn law firm. With the list of oligarchs, "you could imagine a situation in which it is also much broader," he said.
Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he and other senators, including Republican John McCain, pretend Trump's feet on fire on the issue of meddling.
"We want the list," Cardin said. "We are closely monitoring the administration's compliance with the bill we pbaded."
The Congress resolution is clearly sowing fear in Russia, proving that sanctions can be a powerful tool, according to Daniel Fried, a senior State Department official under the Obama administration now a member of Council A The objective is to "freeze them from the American system, freeze them from the dollar and turn them into radioactive ones," Fried said.
– With the help of Laura Litvan, Alexander Sazonov, Jack Farchy, Stepan Kravchenko and Yuliya Fedorinova