Vekselberg's cousin fighting for "constitutional rights of any American"
Businessman Andrew Intrater has been affected by the sanctions imposed on the Russian oligarch.
Andrew Intrater, the cousin of the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, believes that the US Treasury violated the fourth amendment and went to court after the US authorities froze the funds of his investment company Columbus Nova.
Intrater intends to sue the US Department of Justice, its head Steven Mnuchin and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the ministry, RBC said with reference to The New York Times.
He accuses the authorities of violating the fourth amendment to the US Constitution, which provides that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.
The US government froze $55 million of Columbus Nova and more than $250 million’s worth of its assets due to sanctions against Vekselberg. Intrater claims that $12 million of the fortune belong to him and his company.
Viktor Vekselberg (photo: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“I’m fighting not only to protect my and my partners’ interests but also for the constitutional rights of any American to keep the government’s hands off of their property,” Intrater said.
The so-called 50% rule was applied to Columbus Nova, according to which entities, more than half of which belong to an individual or a company that has been affected by sanctions, must request permission to perform certain operations. Intrater's lawyers have made ten requests, of which only two have been granted by the US Treasury.
Intrater does not see why his business should suffer because of sanctions against his cousin. According to him, those who have worked with him for almost 20 years suddenly got too scared to do business with him.
Intrater was also questioned in the investigation into Russian interference in the American elections, which was led by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Intrater was asked about his connections to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer. However, the investigation report recently submitted by Mueller does not mention Intrater, which should confirm his innocence, in his opinion.
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According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Intrater contributed $64.6 thousand to the election fund of Donald Trump and the Republicans’ National Committee, plus $250 thousand to Trump’s inaugural committee in 2017. Meanwhile, Vekselberg and ordinary employees of Columbus Nova supported the US Democratic Party donating $15.4 thousand to the Democrats between 2002 and 2017, Viktor Vekselberg personally contributing $2 thousand to the Electoral Committee of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, follows from FEC reports. Under US campaign finance legislation, such contributions can be only made by US citizens or holders of a residence permit.
The US Treasury Department believes that Columbus Nova manages Vekselberg’s assets referring to his Renova Group as the largest customer. The company's activity has decreased significantly since the sanctions against the Russian oligarch were imposed.
Viktor Vekselberg, who ranks 11th on the Forbes’ richest Russians list with a fortune of $11.5 billion, got affected by the sanctions along with his Renova group of companies in April 2018. The restrictive measures imply a ban on entry into the United States and the freezing of his assets. In addition, US citizens and foreign counterparties are prohibited from doing business with Vekselberg or Renova.
The sanctions were imposed because of the situations in Ukraine and Syria, and also because of the cyberattacks, but “primarily because of Russia's attempts to undermine Western democracy,” the US Treasury Department explained. Vekselberg stated in an interview with Vedomosti that he had never taken part in that and only got affected because he was Russian, rich and met Putin.