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20 Dec, 2023 14:53

EU court upholds sanctions against Russian tycoon

Roman Abramovich denies allegations that he is benefiting from the Ukraine conflict
EU court upholds sanctions against Russian tycoon

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has protested his innocence and denied reaping benefits from the Ukraine conflict after an EU court refused to remove sanctions on the businessman. 

The EU’s General Court threw out the tycoon's legal challenge on Wednesday, saying he was the majority shareholder in steel and mining giant Evraz, which according to the court ruling provides a “substantial source of revenue” to Moscow.

The billionaire was added to the sanctions list in the EU, UK, and Canada shortly after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February last year. 

At the time, Abramovich was accused of having long-standing and close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that allegedly helped him to maintain his considerable wealth. Brussels also claimed that taxation of the billionaire’s business had become a “significant source of revenue” for the Russian budget.

In May 2022, the businessman appealed to the EU’s General Court to challenge the decision. He attempted to overturn the inclusion of his name on the EU sanctions lists, and sought compensation over harm to his reputation estimated at €1 million ($1.01 million).

Abramovich owns 28.7% of Evraz, as well as minority shares of Russian nickel and palladium miner Norilsk Nickel, tech multinational Yandex, Renaissance Insurance, and online video streaming service ivi. He and his family were ranked 16th in the Forbes list of wealthiest Russians in 2023 with an estimated fortune of $9.2 billion.

The businessman “does not have the ability to influence the decision making of any government, including Russia, and has in no way benefitted from the war,” Abramovich’s representatives insisted in a statement provided to Reuters, in response to the ruling.

“Although we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we welcome that the court did not take up several arguments presented by the EU Council and did not include them as a basis for maintaining sanctions,” the statement added.

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