In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg attends the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow, Russia.
Billionaire Vekselberg has long ties to the U.S. including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut. The 61-year-old Ukrainian-born businessman, estimated to be worth $13 billion, heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets.
Vekselberg built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era. As of mid-February, a company controlled by Vekselberg and a group of partners owned 22.5 percent in Deripaska's Rusal, a metals company that was hit with the U.S. sanctions, according to a letter sent by Senate Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Mark Warner to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Deripaska subsequently agreed to cede control of Rusal in exchange for the sanctions relief.
As a rich and powerful Russian, Vekselberg is presumed to operate with Putin's tacit approval. He has used his wealth to exert influence in the U.S., including the Skolkovo Foundation, a Russian government-backed nonprofit aimed at winning U.S. and Western tech investment in Russia.
Vekselberg has worked closely with his American cousin, Andrew Intrater, who heads the New York investment management firm Columbus Nova. Media attention zeroed in on Vekselberg and Intrater when the attorney for the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels released a memo claiming the cousins routed about $500,000 through Columbus Nova to a shell company set up by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen. Columbus Nova denied that Vekselberg played any role in its payments to Cohen.
Several days before Trump's inauguration, Vekselberg and Intrater met with Cohen at Trump Tower, one of several meetings between Trump intimates and high-level Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition.
Vekselberg also was targeted with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions, which cited his ties to Putin, after he was questioned by Mueller's staff on a visit to the U.S. All of Vekselberg's assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities.