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Gov't moving to cushion blow of UC Rusal ban, says Montague

Published:Tuesday | April 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter

The Government is relentlessly lobbying the United States (US) Department of State to mitigate the adverse effects of the sanctions against United Company (UC) Rusal, operator of West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), according to the minister of transport and mining.

Robert Montague made the disclosure in the House of Representatives yesterday, explaining that the move is grounded in the need to safeguard the jobs of the 1,200 individuals employed to WINDALCO, the environment and revenue.

"Mr Speaker, despite UC Rusal's intention to continue to operate as normal, the Ministry of Transport and Mining's analyses indicate that normal operations will become increasingly difficult, especially if the company refuses to dilute its ownership," said Montague.

On Monday, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a licence allowing US and non-US parties up to October 23 to engage in particular transactions relevant to winding down or maintaining business with UC Rusal and its subsidiaries.

The department had stirred up a range of concerns with its initial announcement that "non-US persons could face sanctions for knowingly facilitating significant transactions for or on behalf of the individuals or entities blocked today (April 6)".

Montague promised that the Government would not be complacent. One proposal is for the ministry to spearhead the introduction of local ownership, which would avert the possibility of sanctions. He noted that the last resort would be for the Government to take a controlling interest in WINDALCO.

Phillip Paulwell, opposition spokesperson on mining, concurred with Montague.