European Court to rule over Roman Abramovich’s inclusion on EU’s sanctions list

PORTO, PORTUGAL - MAY 29: Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea smiles following his team's victory during the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao on May 29, 2021 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Roman Abramovich, pictured in 2021, announced he was selling Chelsea in 2022.Alexander Hassenstein/UEFA/Getty ImagesCNN — 

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule on Wednesday on whether to overturn former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s inclusion on the European Union’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Billionaire Roman Abramovich was placed on the EU’s sanction list along with Russian officials including the country’s president Vladimir Putin, prominent business leaders and oligarchs in March 2022 shortly after the conflict began.

The European Union said Abramovich, “has long and close ties to Vladimir Putin,” and “has had privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him.” A connection, the EU said, allowed the tycoon “to maintain his considerable wealth.”

“He has therefore been benefitting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine,” the EU claimed.

The EU also alleged that as “one of the leading Russian businesspersons” Abramovich provided “a substantial source of revenue to the Government of the Russian Federation.”

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To date, the European says almost 1,800 individuals and entities have been placed on the EU’s sanctions list and are subject to travel restrictions and asset freezes.

In May 2022, Abramovich brought a case against the EU seeking to annul his inclusion on the sanctions list, ECJ documents said.

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Abramovich claims there was “manifest error” in the European Union’s assessment and the decision to include him on the list is an “infringement of fundamental rights” and “unjustified interference” of his fundamental rights enshrined in EU law.

Documents of the Luxembourg based court also said Abramovich wants the EU to pay €1 million (£1.1 million) “to the charitable foundation for victims of conflicts which is being established in connection with the sale of Chelsea FC” for reputation damages.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM:  Chelsea striker Arjen Robben (C) holds the Barclay's Premiership trophy aloft as he rides on an open-top bus with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (C front), Eidur Gudjohnsen (L), Frank Lampard (2nd R) and John Terry (2nd R front) and other teammates during a parade  in west London 22 May  2005. Chelsea won the Premiership for  the 2004/2005 season , their first league trophy in 50 years.   AFP PHOTO  / ODD ANDERSEN  (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Abramovich (front center), pictured here in 2005, enjoyed a lot of success at Chelsea.Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

In March 2022, Abramovich announced that he was selling Chelsea Football Club and he had “instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated,” adding that “the foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

Last May, in a deal worth $5 billion, Chelsea was sold to an ownership group led by Todd Boehly, of which $3.08 billion would be donated to Abramovich’s charitable cause.

Last week the UK’s Europe Minister Leo Docherty told a parliamentary committee hearing “the proceeds from the sale are frozen in a UK bank account,” and that the government was “now going through a process of independent experts establishing a foundation to manage the money.”

“The key difference between the Government and those who have been involved” in establishing the foundation, “is whether the funds get used inside Ukraine or for Ukrainians outside of Ukraine,” Docherty told the hearing.

Docherty added that the UK government wants “to have this money deployed as quickly as possible to the benefit of Ukrainians inside Ukraine.”

Abramovich also appears on the UK’s sanctions list.

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