LONDON — It was a black Monday for Russian oligarchs as up to $16 billion was wiped off the value of the country’s wealthiest tycoons' holdings in the wake of U.S.-imposed sanctions.
The ruble fell to its lowest level against the dollar since late 2016, while shares in sanctioned aluminum producer Rusal, which is controlled by the billionaire Oleg Deripaska, plunged more than 50 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
As Russian stocks tumbled, the Kremlin reportedly said it would step in to support affected companies.
In total, the net worth of Russia’s wealthiest people fell by $16 billion, according to Bloomberg. Forbes Russia said the value of tycoons on its own index fell by $12 billion.
Shares in Sberbank, one of Russia’s biggest banks and a barometer of its economic health, fell 17.3 percent.
However, some Russian business leaders remained upbeat. “I lost $250 million a day," Oleg Tinkov, founder and chairman of the board of directors of Tinkoff Bank, told a business conference in Moscow on Tuesday. "But there have been worse days. I remember I lost a billion in a day. So, actually, it was a very positive day."
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would back efforts to mitigate the effect of the sanctions package, which he called "egregious in its lawlessness."
"Time is needed for analysis to understand the size of the real damage and to work out steps to correct the situation, for the maximum possible correction," he said Monday.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered officials to draw up measures to support sanctioned companies in the energy, metals and arms sectors, Russian news agencies reported.
Even those companies not under sanctions took a financial hit. Reuters reported that steel miner Evraz was the biggest faller on London's FTSE 100 on Monday, down 8 percent.