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10 Mar, 2022 10:07

UK freezes assets of Abramovich, other Russian oligarchs

Seven high-profile Russian business figures have found themselves on London's fresh list of ‘financial sanctions targets’
UK freezes assets of Abramovich, other Russian oligarchs

The UK has cracked down on Russian oligarchs as part of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, freezing the assets of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller, and others.

The Treasury published a list on Thursday that includes 204 individuals and 65 entities to be subject to the restrictions, with seven top Russian businessmen named on it.

Besides Abramovich and Miller, EN+ Group owner Oleg Deripaska, chairman of Rosneft Igor Sechin, the head of VTB bank Andrey Kostin, president of Transneft pipeline company Nikolai Tokarev and chairman of Bank Rossiya Dmitry Lebedev have also had their assets in Britain frozen.

“There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of the new sanctions.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has claimed that the restrictions have proven that “oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society.”

“The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands,” she said, adding that London won’t stop with its attempts to “ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.”

According to the Treasury, Abramovich has been involved in "obtaining a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia" due to doing his businesses "in sectors of strategic significance" to the Kremlin.

The assets of the Chelsea soccer club have also been blocked, meaning that Abramovich won't be able to sell his London-based club now.

Chelsea have been issued a special license, which allows the club to continue operating, but only with its sports-related activities.

As the head of energy giant Gazprom, in which the Russian government holds a majority stake, Miller was blamed for supporting activities that “threaten the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Those included supplying gas to Crimea, which, according to London, Russia “annexed illegally” in 2014. Moscow insists that it acted after the majority of the population on the peninsula voted to part ways with Ukraine and reunite with Russia in a referendum following a Maidan coup in Kiev, which ousted the country’s democratically elected government.

Deripaska was included on the list of “financial sanctions targets” due to being “a pro-Kremlin oligarch” who was associated with the Russian officials behind the military operation.

Sechin had been restricted over his “close personal ties to Vladimir Putin” and claims that he benefited from supporting the Russian government, while working in a sector of strategic importance, the Treasury said. Similar claims were made against Kostin, Tokarev and Lebedev.