The sale of European champions league club, Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, was put on hold on Thursday, after the United Kingdom (UK) government placed an asset freeze on the Russian billionaire. ayokinews.com reports
The limitations “apply to any entities owned or controlled by Roman Abramovich,” according to the UK finance ministry, adding: “This implies Chelsea Football Club is now subject to an asset freeze under UK financial sanctions.”
As part of new UK government sanctions targeting seven Russian oligarchs, Abramovich’s assets were frozen and he was banned from traveling. Leading businessman Oleg Deripaska; Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin; and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, are among those who have been sanctioned, according to the authorities.
For weeks, speculation had circulated about whether Abramovich will be included in the targeted sanctions against Russian oligarchs linked to the Kremlin.
After buying Chelsea in 2003 and bankrolling its domestic and European success, Abramovich revealed last week that he was selling the English Premier League club.
The British government calculated Abramovich’s net worth at £9.4 billion (€11.1 billion euros, $12.2 billion), but stated that the sanction on Chelsea would be mitigated by allowing the club to continue to function.
The ministry stated in a statement that a special license “authorizes a number of football-related activities.”
“This includes permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football-related activity which will in turn protect the Premier League, the wider football pyramid, loyal fans and other clubs,” it added.
Deripaska was formerly a business associate of Abramovich, while Sechin has been dubbed as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “right-hand man” by authorities.
Miller, VTB bank chairman Andrey Kostin, Transneft president Nikolai Tokarev, and Bank Rossiya chairman Dmitri Lebedev are among the four people in his inner circle.
According to the statement, the seven Russian oligarchs have a combined net worth of almost £15 billion.
The sanctions, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are “the latest move in the UK’s unrelenting support for the Ukrainian people.”
Also speaking, UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: “Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society.”
“With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression. The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.”