June 23, 2023

Frozen Fortunes


Frozen Fortunes
Roman Abramovich. John Dobson, Wikimedia Commons.

Roman Abramovich, a Russian-born oligarch and politician, wants to donate £2.3bn (approximately $3bn) to war-affected Russian citizens. 

In March 2022, Roman Abramovich revealed plans to sell his British football club, Chelsea, and relinquish control to the board of trustees. Shortly before his decision, the European Union introduced its fourth round of sanctions, which encompassed Abramovich. Subsequently, Canada, Great Britain, and other nations imposed similar restrictions on the oligarch.

Abramovich eventually sold the football club one year ago for £2.3bn. During the sale, Abramovich's spokesperson stated he “wanted the proceeds to be transferred to a charitable foundation for the needs of the victims on both sides of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.” However, due to existing sanctions against Russia for its aggression toward Ukraine, both the British government and the European Commission oppose this proposal.

The £2.3bn remains in a frozen UK bank account owned by Fordstam, a company under Abramovich's control, pending approval from the Foreign Office for its transfer. Strict regulations dictate that the funds can only be allocated to Ukrainian humanitarian purposes. Confirmed by sources within the UK Foreign Office, Secretary of State James Cleverly expressed uncertainty regarding the clearance of funds before the government's summer recess next month. Ministers are scheduled to resume in September.

“We want to make sure that the money that is released goes exclusively to the recipients it is aimed at. I need full reassurance that is the case," Cleverly said.
 

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