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Russia sanctions sparked fiery sales and asset freezes for UK oligarchs

Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC, looks at fans after the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Dragao Stadium on May 29, 2021, in Porto, Portugal.

Alex Livesey – Dunhouse | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has embarked on a sale of his most valuable asset in the United Kingdom in the latest move by Vladimir Putin’s inner circle to distance themselves from their fortune as Western sanctions take hold.

Kotb, 55, announced on Wednesday Chelsea Football Club sale In England, the crown jewel in a chain of multibillion-dollar lists has so far escaped the web of sanctions imposed by Western governments in an effort to stop Putin’s war.

The club, which Abramovich bought for 140 million pounds in 2003, is expected to sell for around 3 billion pounds ($4 billion). The billionaire is said to have written off £1.5 billion of debt owed to him by the club.

Meanwhile, a suite of London properties, including Kensington Palace worth £150m and the purchase of a £22m Chelsea Waterfront penthouse in 2018, could collectively fetch £200m.

The sale came a day before Western allies on Thursday added new names to their lists of sanctioned oligarchs, with both United State And the United kingdom Targeting Alisher Usmanov and others closely linked to the Kremlin. The sanctions will freeze their assets and restrict their travel.

In a statement on Wednesday, Abramovich – who has so far avoided taking a political stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – said the move was in the “club’s best interest” and added that all net proceeds from the sale would be donated to war victims. It comes after his move last week to transfer oversight of Chelsea to a charity.

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The timing of the sale is notable, however, with British opposition Labor MP Chris Bryant saying Abramovich is “terrified of being sanctioned”, and is liquidating his assets.

Pursuing the origins of the oligarchy

Abramovich who $12.5 billion fortune Originally derived from the sale of Russian state assets following the fall of the Soviet Union, it has so far avoided the kind of sanctions that hit some of its peers.

But there are signs that the tide may be turning as Western authorities strengthen their resolve to target Russia’s wealthy elite as the war enters its second week.

The sale of a property by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in Kensington, London on March 2, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

On Thursday, French officials seized a yacht They say they are linked to Rosneft chief Igor Sechin as part of Europe’s ongoing efforts to locate and seize luxury assets. Similarly, the United States launched a task force to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.

However, the clock is ticking as a targeted oligarch Transfer their assets to overseas territories And support their wealth with cryptocurrency.

According to a CNBC analysis, Vagit Alekperov, the head of Russia’s Lukoil company, is sailing his yacht to Montenegro, while at least three yachts owned by other Russian billionaires are approaching from the Maldives.

Not moving fast enough