Aughinish Alumina owner calls for punishment over Bucha killings

Chair of Russian aluminium giant Rusal said there must be an independent investigation

The chairman of the Russian owner of the Aughinish Alumina plant has called for an impartial investigation into the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, and urged "severe punishment" for those responsible.

Bernard Zonneveld, the chairman of Russian aluminium giant Rusal, which is the majority shareholder in the Limerick plant, issued the statement on the company's website.

While he did not touch on who was to blame for the deaths of civilians in the town, it is unusual for a large Russian company to comment publicly on the conflict.

Ukraine and several Western governments have accused Moscow of war crimes after the bodies of civilians shot at close range were found in the town of Bucha following a Russian withdrawal.


The Kremlin denies its forces were responsible for the deaths and said on Tuesday that Western allegations Russian forces committed war crimes were a “monstrous forgery”. However, there is no evidence to support Moscow’s claims.

Thorough investigation

Mr Zonneveld, a Dutch national, said he was shocked by reports from the town. “Rusal is a multinational company, our employees work across five continents in 20 countries, including Ukraine,” he said.

“Being interested in putting an end to the conflict in this European country as quickly as possible, we are closely watching the events there, in the hope that this horror and tragedy will finally stop.

“Reports from the Ukrainian city of Bucha shocked us. We believe that this crime should be thoroughly investigated.

“We support an objective and impartial investigation of this crime and call for severe punishment for the perpetrators. No matter how hard it may seem in the context of ongoing information war.”

Mr Zonneveld added that there must be a peaceful resolution to save lives and return to normality.

“Despite the brutality of the current events in Ukraine in themselves, such incidents make this terrible tragedy all the more traumatic,” he said. “We all wish an early end to this fratricidal conflict, which destroys lives, families and entire cities.

“And we want those responsible for such crimes to be punished appropriately. We call for an early peaceful resolution of this conflict, to preserve priceless human lives and return to normalcy.”


The statement was issued as the EU mulls further sanctions against Russia-linked companies.

The Government in Dublin has insisted that Rusal's companies are unlikely to be hit in the next round of European sanctions against Russia, despite moves in Brussels to impose penalties on key shareholder Oleg Deripaska.

Pressures on Aughinish Alumina are growing as the EU readies punitive measures against Mr Deripaska, a billionaire who is one of the most powerful oligarchs in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The Aughinish operation is strategically important for the EU because it is a major supplier to European industry. The plant turns imported bauxite into alumina, which is shipped to France and Sweden and smelted to make aluminium.

Mr Deripaska was hit with UK sanctions last month over the Ukraine invasion and US sanctions in 2018 led him to relinquish his majority stake in the business.

But three people familiar with discussions on the future of Aughinish Alumina said there was intensive and growing concern that European sanctions against Mr Deripaska could lead business counterparties to stop trading with the Irish unit because of its Russian links.

The possibility of divesting Aughinish Alumina from its parent is under examination, a move that would necessitate some form of sale or Government intervention.

Although Aughinish is politically sensitive for the Government because it employs more than 400 workers, there is little clarity on how a change of ownership could be achieved.


Separately, the Irish company supplying secretarial services to a Dublin funding arm of Rusal has resigned, filings in the Companies Registration Office show.

Cafico Secretaries Ltd, with an address on Denzille Lane, Dublin 2, resigned from its position with Rusal Capital DAC on April 1st, according to a filing submitted on Thursday. It is not known if this is in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a request for a comment from Cafico met with no response.

The new company secretary is Michael Ronan, of Father Russell Road, Limerick. Rusal Capital DAC had bonds with a nominal value of $1.5 billion listed on Euronext Dublin at the end of 2020, according to its latest filed accounts.

Filings in the Companies Registration Office show that a number of Irish secretarial services providers and Irish directors have been resigning from leasing companies that have links to Russia.

Flynn O’Driscoll Secretarial Ltd has resigned as secretary to SB Leasing Ireland and GTLK Europe DAC.

According to its website, Dublin-based GTLK Europe manages a portfolio of air and sea vessels with a value of $2.55 billion. The company’s ultimate parent is the Kremlin-controlled JSC GTLK, of Russia, which is that country’s largest leasing company. Its main customer is Aeroflot. JSC GTLK is not a sanctioned entity. Russian transport minister Vitaly Savelyev stepped down from his role as chairman of GTLK after he was placed on the EU sanctions list in February.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent