On 12th July, Rferl reported that the Soviet-trained scientist emigrated to the US in the early 2000s and built a $7 billion technology firm that now employs about 2,000 high-paid specialists around the country. His Massachusetts-based IPG Photonics generates nearly half of its $1.5 billion in annual revenue from China. However, in January 2018, the US Treasury included him on a list of Russian oligarchs. Gapontsev appeared alongside people widely considered to be close to Putin, such as Arkady Rotenberg. However, his efforts to be removed ran up against a seemingly unbending barrier, finding himself unable to remove his name from the list because the US Treasury has no mechanism in place to do so. So Gapontsev filed a lawsuit against the US Treasury in December 2018, the first person to legally challenge the list. The US Treasury has said that it clearly stated that the oligarch list “is not a sanctions list” and that inclusion does not create “any other restrictions, prohibitions, or limitations on dealings with such persons by either US or foreign persons”, but his lawyers contended that the label has caused customers and potential clients – including the US government – to believe they cannot deal with him or IPG Photonics, though they gave no specific examples of the company losing any deals.
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