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Roman Abramovich, who put Chelsea up for sale, is one of the Russian oligarchs who did not resist UK pressure | Football | Sports

The sale of Chelsea FC by millionaire Roman Abramovich is the most visible result yet of pressure on Russian oligarchs in the UK, but that has not silenced those calling on the British government to be more forceful.

Russian money in London is the big taboo facing Boris Johnson’s CEO. On the one hand, the UK is showing itself in words and actions as one of Ukraine’s strongest allies. On the other hand, only a small number of oligarchs are currently affected by the sanctions, which they would have no problem circumventing.

Ukrainian society and the opposition are demanding immediate action against the properties of these wealthy people: yachts, houses, private planes… However, almost all of them are protected under the umbrella of a company based in a tax haven.

Fans raised banners bearing the Ukrainian flag and the Chelsea logo in protest against businessman Abramovich. Photo: Agence France-Presse

Sources of Downing Street – The Prime Minister’s Office – recognizes that laws require respect for a process that can slow down asset seizures by up to months.

Abramovich himself, despite having to sell Chelsea, has not been sanctioned, despite calls to do so.

“We realize that some of these people have very deep pockets. (But) that does not mean they are immune or exempt in any way.” BBC Secretary of State for Security Damian Hinds.

The official also denied that the conservative executive feared the potential legal repercussions of new confiscation measures or withholding of capital.

“There will be more people who can be sanctioned,” Hinds stressed.

According to the newspaper Financial Timesthe British government is finalizing plans to seize the properties of oligarchs who have until now been subject to sanctions in this country.

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Although this measure has not yet been decided, the Minister for Regional Cohesion, Michael Gove, is analyzing, in cooperation with the Executive’s legal advisers, the possibilities of confiscating these assets without violating legal security or private property guarantees.

So far, the UK has frozen the assets of nine Russian oligarchs, including Kirill Shamalov, the former son-in-law of President Vladimir Putin; Denis Bortnikov, Vice President of VTB Bank; Elena Georgieva, President of Novicombank; And Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire friend of Putin.

But the list of those who have evaded sanctions so far is much longer. It includes a name that particularly shocks anti-corruption activists: that of Yevgeny Lebedev, the billionaire son of a former Russian intelligence agent, who bought the London newspaper Al-Massa. Evening standard In 2009.

Lebedev embodies like no other the illicit connection between Russian money and British politics.

Boris Johnson himself nominated him in 2020 to hold a life seat in the House of Lords.

Although the British security services were suspicious of Lebedev, that did not prevent the Prime Minister from rewarding him with admission to the House of Councilors in gratitude for the intense campaign carried out by his newspaper to elect him as Mayor of London. (Dr)

Amber Cross

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