US sanctions against Russian aluminum giant were lifted in January after Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska stepped back from the company (Olga MALTSEVA)

Moscow (AFP) – Russian aluminium giant Rusal on Monday announced plans for its first investment in the United States since sanctions against the company were lifted.

The US sanctions, which targeted oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, were imposed on Rusal last year and only removed in January after owner Oleg Deripaska divested and resigned his seat on the board.

Rusal on Monday said it would partner with US manufacturer Braidy Industries Inc “to establish a joint project in Ashland, Kentucky, USA to produce flat rolled aluminium products for the US automotive industry”.

The factory “will be the widest US-based cold rolling mill” and “will aid towards rebalancing the anticipated deficit of the auto body sheet in the US market,” Rusal said in a statement.

Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium maker outside of China, will hold a 40 percent share in the project and be the exclusive supplier to the factory.

It will therefore be subject to the 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports announced by US President Donald Trump last year.

Rusal will initially invest $200 million in the $1.7 billion project, executives of both companies told S&P Global Platts.

The company took a hit last year when Russian billionaire Deripaska was included the US Treasury’s sanctions which sought to punish Putin’s inner circle for Moscow’s alleged interference in the politics of Western democracies.

The penalties were lifted against Rusal and two of Deripaska’s other companies when he reduced his stakes in them, but sanctions remain on him personally, preventing others from doing business with him.

Deripaska was also mentioned frequently in the investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in America’s 2016 election, but he has not been charged.

He had been formerly involved in business with Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman who has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for financial and other crimes.

Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.