Too big to sanction? U.S. struggles with punishing large Russian businesses

When the Treasury Department imposed tough sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and his companies in April, the fallout for the Putin ally was fast and fierce.

Western customers stopped buying from the aluminum company he controls, sinking its share price and shaving Deripaska’s fortune from $6.7 billion to $3.4 billion, according to Forbes estimates.

The sanctions also caused havoc far beyond Russia. Global aluminum prices spiked, battering U.S. and European companies that use the metal. After an outcry from manufacturers and foreign governments, Treasury softened its stance, giving companies more time to end dealings with the aluminum producer, Rusal, and suggesting it could lift sanctions on the company if Deripaska cedes control. (Read more…)