Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Windalco escapes US sanctions

Published:Wednesday | July 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter
Montague

The impact of United States (US) sanctions on the West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco), owned by United Company (UC) Rusal of Russia, has been alleviated, at least for now, following sustained lobbying by the Jamaican Government.

The Jamaican Government has been engaging US authorities in a quest to stave off the closure of the local bauxite plant to save the jobs of some 1,200 workers at the company in Ewarton, St Catherine.

Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague has indicated that appeals from the Jamaican Government to US authorities for the granting of waivers for UC Rusal's Windalco operations have been acted on by the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In April, OFAC added seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control to its designated nationals list, which effectively meant that these companies would be targeted for sanctions by the US. With the largest shareholder in UC Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, named among those on the OFAC sanctioned list, his assets and entities within the US jurisdiction have been frozen, and Americans are prohibited from doing business with them.

The Government sought waivers for US Rusal to allow the company to purchase fuel, equipment, spares and other supplies to sustain the operation of its Ewarton bauxite plant. Additionally, the waivers would allow the company to conduct business transactions with banks in Jamaica and intermediaries to facilitate the continuation of UC Rusal's business.

Montague told his parliamentary colleagues yesterday that OFAC had advised the Jamaican Government that Windalco's commercial activities were covered under General Licence 14 (GL-14).

"To the extent that the relevant activities of Windalco involve transactions that are consistent with the maintenance and win down activities authorised by GL-14, US persons may continue to engage in those transactions with Windalco until the expiration of GL-14," OFAC said in a letter dated July 18, 2018.

The so-called GL-14 is slated to expire on October 23, 2018.

OFAC further said that "transactions with Windalco by non-US persons will not be considered 'significant' for purposes of a sanctions determination ...".

Montague noted that the Government would continue to have dialogue with US authorities on the issue.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com