- The UK has imposed sanctions on seven other oligarchs linked to the Kremlin
- The group includes owner Chelsea Abramovich
- Chelsea sale has been suspended, the UK may sell the club
- Suspension of trading on Efras shares
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has imposed sanctions, asset freezes and travel bans on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and CEO Igor Sechin, over their links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The billionaires as well as Oleg Deripaska and four Russian businessmen are among the most prominent businessmen to be added to Britain’s sanctions list since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following criticism that Britain is acting too slowly.
This action puts on ice Abramovich’s plans to sell the Premier League club, effectively putting the current European champions under government control. The team can continue to play but the government has said it is open to selling the club as long as Abramovich himself does not benefit. Read more
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“There can be no safe haven for those who supported Putin’s vicious attack on Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We will ruthlessly pursue those who help kill civilians, destroy hospitals, and illegally occupy sovereign allies,” he added.
There have been loud calls from British lawmakers for action against Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs, with criticism that Johnson’s government has not been moving fast enough compared to the European Union and the United States.
Sechin, described by Britain as Putin’s right-hand man, was already on US and European Union sanctions lists, and his yacht was seized by French authorities last week. Read more
Since the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation,” Britain has imposed sanctions on about 20 people linked to Russia. The European Union announced, on Wednesday, the imposition of new sanctions on 14 other provisions, which means that its restrictions apply to 862 people and 53 entities. Read more
15 billion pounds
Others added to the British list are Deripaska, who owns stakes in the Nplus group, Dmitry Lebedev, chairman of the Bank of Russia, Alexei Miller, CEO of energy company Gazprom, and Nikolai Tokarev, head of the state-owned Russian pipeline company. Transneft.
In all, Britain said the seven figures, excluding Abramovich, who have previously sanctioned the United States or the European Union, have a combined net worth of 15 billion pounds. ($19.74 billion).
Thursday’s action means Abramovich is barred from doing transactions with any British individuals and companies, and he cannot enter or reside in Britain. His spokeswoman declined to comment immediately.
The 55-year-old, who holds dual Israeli and Portuguese citizenships, became one of the most powerful businessmen in Russia by earning massive fortunes after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Forbes estimated his net worth at $13.3 billion.
He bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140m, and his investment contributed significantly to the most successful era in the team’s history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.
They beat Brazilian side Palmeiras in February to become FIFA Club World Cup champions for the first time, after defeating English side Manchester City to become European champions last season.
Last week, Abramovich announced that he would sell Chelsea FC and donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine. Johnson’s spokesman said the government was open to selling the club but would require another licence. Read more
“If the club is sold, Abramovich will not benefit,” Sports Minister Nadine Doris told reporters. Read more
The government has issued a special license to allow Chelsea to play matches and pay staff, but it will limit the sale of tickets and merchandise. Read more
The entry on the British sanctions list described Abramovich, who Britain said is worth 9 billion pounds, as “a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch who has had a “close relationship for decades” with Putin.
The list added that this association with Putin brought Abramovich a financial or material benefit, either from the Russian president directly or from the Russian government.
It said he was “involved in destabilizing Ukraine” and undermining its sovereignty and independence through London-listed Russian steelmaker Evraz. (EVRE.L) of which he is the largest shareholder.
Britain’s Financial Supervisory Authority has suspended trading in shares in Evraz, which fell 16% after the sanctions were announced.
Britain’s Treasury said Evraz was involved in providing financial services, money, goods or technology that could harm Ukraine’s independence, including providing steel that could be used to make Russian tanks.
London has always been a major destination for Russian money, and Johnson has vowed to crack down on those who use the British capital as a luxury playground, enjoy luxury hotels and educate their children in fee schools, earning it the nickname Lundongrad for its popularity. with oligarchs.
But Johnson’s critics, who point out that his Conservative Party has close ties to Russian donors who have donated about 1.9 million pounds since he came to power, say the government has been slow to impose sanctions and asset freezes on Russia’s oligarchs and those close to the Putin administration. .
Opposition MPs, who have called for action against Abramovich and others, said the news of the sanctions was welcome, but it took too long.
“This is the right decision. But it shouldn’t have taken weeks of government,” said David Lammy, a Labor foreign affairs spokesman.
“Very few oligarchs linked to Putin’s rogue regime have so far faced sanctions from the UK government. We are far behind allies in the EU and the US.”
(dollar = 0.7599 pounds)
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(Reporting by Kate Holton, Alistair Smoot, and Paul Sandel) Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by William James and Frank Jack Daniel’s
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