February 19, 2019

U.S. Treasury to fight IPG CEO's lawsuit over Russian oligarch listing

Photo | Grant Welker
The Oxford headquarters of IPG Photonics.
Photo | File
Valentin Gapontsev was able to move his name from Forbes' Russian billionaires list to its American billionaires list, but he still is listed by the U.S. Treasury as a Russian oligarch.

In a request for a preliminary injunction, Oxford laser manufacturer IPG Photonics and its Founder & CEO Valentin Gapontsev are calling for the U.S. Department of the Treasury to immediately remove Gapontsev from a list of Russian oligarchs.

The document, filed Feb. 15, calls for a hearing and for U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and his department to remove Gapontsev, a Worcester resident and U.S. citizen, from the Treasury's list of oligarchs and submit that updated list to U.S. Congress within five days.

The Treasury, in a joint motion to extend filing deadlines, said it will oppose the complaint and request for injunction and file a motion to dismiss the complaint, which was originally filed in December.

The request is backed up by a 37-page memorandum detailing how the Russian-born Gapontsev's wealth is a result of his entrepreneurship in the field of fiber laser technology.

The document claims Gapontsev's assets are located in the U.S., and the man or company is in no way tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Gapontsev and the company say business relationships with government contractors are being harmed.

"Customers have reported that they believe they cannot do business with IPG Photonics due to Dr. Gapontsev's inclusion on a Treasury list," the complaint says. "Chief among such customers are those who are U.S. government contractors."

The list, Gapontsev alleges, was simply copied from the list of Russian billionaires published in a March 2017 issue of Forbes magazine.

Forbes has since removed Gapontsev from that list and he is now listed as an American billionaire because his residence, company and wealth are based in the U.S.

The company now believes some customers are simply turning to competitors rather than raising the issue with IPG.

U.S. Congress has introduced legislation that could cut off oligarchs on the list from the U.S. financial system, which could cause irreparable harm, the company argues.

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