Russian oligarch asks court to invalidate Australia’s sanctions regime

A Russian oligarch sanctioned over his alleged links to Vladimir Putin has asked a court to render Australia’s sanctions regime invalid, documents show.

Australia imposed sanctions on billionaire Oleg Deripaska in March last year, a move that prevented him from travelling to Australia or profiting from his company’s stake in an alumina refinery in Gladstone, Queensland.

At the time, the then foreign minister, Marise Payne, said the sanctions were designed to place “pressure on the oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin”, Russia’s president.

Deripaska launched a federal court challenge against the decision earlier this year, asking for a judge to render it void and of no effect.

On Thursday, he amended his case to seek a declaration from the court that the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011, which provides for the deployment of Australian sanctions, is “invalid”.

The oligarch says the sanctions regulations are invalid because they effectively stop him from personally travelling to Australia and approaching a court to challenge the sanctions decision.

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His lawyers can only approach a court on his behalf with the minister’s permission and under certain conditions, and his lawyers’ freedom to communicate about “any government decision relating to [Deripaska] is infringed in a manner that contravenes the implied constitutional freedom of political communication”.

Deripaska’s lawyers at Pragma, a Perth-based firm, has previously confirmed that the former attorney general Christian Porter was working on Deripaska’s legal team.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was unable to comment on the new aspect of Deripaska’s case, because it was before the courts.

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Deripaska was among the oligarchs sanctioned by the US in 2018 for reasons including Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. He was also included by the UK and EU as authorities cracked down on influential business figures over the war in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Deripaska told the Financial Times that Russia had weathered the sanctions imposed over its Ukraine invasion surprisingly well.

He said he had previously thought the sanctions would bankrupt the Kremlin, but admitted “surprise” at Russia’s resilience.

“I was surprised that private business would be so flexible. I was more or less sure that up to 30% of the economy would collapse, but it was way less,” he said

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