May 22, 2018 / 6:14 PM / 4 months ago

U.S. extends deadline for sanctions on Russian van maker GAZ

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday gave American customers of Russia’s biggest van manufacturer GAZ (GAZA.MM) more time to comply with sanctions, further backing away from its initially uncompromising stance on GAZ’s owner, Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska.

The United States slapped sanctions on Deripaska and his companies - including GAZ - and some other Russian tycoons in April, in response to Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections and what Washington called other “malign activities”.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters previously that sanctions on GAZ could affect its contracts with German carmakers Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) as well as with U.S. firm Cummins Inc (CMI.N).

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday gave Americans until Oct. 23 instead of June 5 to wind down operations and contracts with GAZ and said it would consider lifting the sanctions if Deripaska ceded control of the company.

GAZ declined to comment. The company competes with firms including a joint venture between Ford Motor Co (F.N) and its Russian partner Sollers (SVAV.MM).

The same extension was previously given and the same mechanism for potential lifting of sanctions was described by the United States for Deripaska’s main asset, the world’s second biggest aluminium producer Rusal (0486.HK).

The move was preceded by lobbying campaign from Europe as the sanctions against Rusal caused a turmoil in the aluminium market.

Deripaska has already said he agreed in principal to reduce his influence in another company which controls Rusal.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann in Washington and Polina Devitt in Moscow; additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow; editing by David Alexander and Lisa Shumaker

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