Friday, April 20, 2018

Arkady Rotenberg's partners hired US lobbyists

Skorobogatko image from article
In search of shield

Russian billionaires Alexander Skorobogatko and Alexander Ponomarenko hired professional lobbyists in the US, after they got into the so-called ‘Kremlin list’ of the US Treasury Department in January. The corresponding notice from lobbying firm Qorvis MSLGROUP appeared last week in a special base of the US Senate.

The services this company will provide to Russian businessmen are rather abstract: "Business interests [of Skorobogatko and Ponomarenko] and relations with the United States."

Skorobogatko and Ponomarenko did not respond to RBC's requests passed through the assets controlled by them. A spokesperson of Qorvis MSLGROUP also left RBC's request unanswered.

Businessmen turned to the lobbyists as physical persons, but the address field in the notification of Qorvis MSLGROUP indicates the location of TPS Real Estate company owned by holding TPS Real Estate, the beneficiary of which, apart from them, is Igor Rotenberg. He got on the US Treasury Sanctions List on April 6.

The ‘Kremlin list’, which includes Skorobogatko and Ponomarenko, can be used for preparing sanctions against Russian oligarchs. April 6, the US imposed the first sanctions on those featured in this report - Oleg Deripaska, Viktor Vekselberg, Suleyman Kerimov, Andrey Skoch, Kirill Shamalov and Vladimir Bogdanov. Last week saw the United States announcing new sanctions against Russia. However, so far President Donald Trump has put them on the backburner.

Skorobogatko and Ponomarenko’s interests will be lobbied by Matt Lauer, who in the early 2000s had experience in the Commission for Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] under the US Department of State, and Grace Fenstermaker. The same Qorvis MSLGROUP’s employees represent the interests of Yamal LNG project, controlled by NOVATEK.

"It is hard to say why the decision to attract lobbyists was made. It is absolutely impossible to protect oneself from sanctions by contacting any consultants," - said RBC partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, Alexey Panich. In his opinion, it is likely that the businessmen merely want to find out what OFAC sanction bureau is guided by when it blacklists names, or to consult on how to "reduce possible damage in case of getting on the sanctions list". ...

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