Roman Abramovich is one of the richest people in the world. In the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the oligarch is coming under increasing pressure – he is said to be helping to finance Putin’s war.
Moscow – In an attempt to stop Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine*, the EU countries are relying, among other things, on harsh sanctions against Russian oligarchs. The restrictions on the Russian President’s closest confidants are intended to indirectly serve as a “means of pressure” on the Kremlin. In the future, however, you could also have a direct influence on further developments in the Ukraine conflict*.
A previously secret document from Moscow now suggests that one of Russia’s richest and most prominent oligarchs played a key role in financing Putin’s military actions with corrupt and criminal deals: the owner of the English football club Chelsea FC, Roman Abramovich.
|Surname||Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich|
|date of birth||October 24, 1966 (55)|
|place of birth||Saratov, Russia|
|citizenship||Russian, Israeli, Portuguese|
|football club owned||Chelsea FC|
Sanctions in the Ukraine war: Details from the past also burden Abramovich
About a week after Great Britain, the EU* also explicitly imposed sanctions on Roman Abramovich on Tuesday (03/15/2022). In concrete terms, this means that the billionaire’s assets in the EU must be frozen. In addition, he can no longer enter the EU. As a result of the sanctions, Abramovich has already retired from Chelsea and is apparently also considering selling the club.
The reason given in the EU Official Journal is that Abramovich is a Russian oligarch “with long-standing and close ties” to Vladimir Putin*. He has privileged access to the President and maintains very good relations with him. The connections also helped the major shareholder of the steel company Evraz Group to “secure his considerable fortune”. The Evraz Group is one of the largest taxpayers in Russia – but it is by no means the only business in which Abramovich is involved.
A five-page secret dossier believed to be from a Russian law enforcement agency file and leaked to the BBC in Moscow reveals incriminating details of how Roman Abramovich allegedly got his fortune. The authenticity of the document cannot currently be verified, but the BBC’s research in Russia was able to confirm numerous details from the file in question.
Chelsea boss Abramovich as “Putin’s financier”: BBC reveals secret document
Among other things, the document is intended to provide additional evidence that Abramovich is said to have cheated at the auction of the oil company Sibneft and deprived the Russian state of around 2.7 billion US dollars. The allegations are not new, Russian authorities investigated the case as early as 1997 and in 2012 Abramovich was also on trial in London in connection with the Sibneft auction, but won the case. The Russian billionaire had already admitted at the time that he had bribed Kremlin officials with large sums of money to get the deal off the ground. Ultimately, Abramovich bought the company several billion dollars below its actual value – only to sell it back to Russia* ten years later at a considerable profit.
According to the BBC, the document now also shows that the Russian authorities wanted to sue Abramovich: “Should Mr. Abramovich come to court, he would have to be charged with gang fraud,” the BBC quotes the document as saying. In the end, it didn’t happen because Abramovich was under the protection of then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin. And even when Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, Abramovich remained in the Kremlin’s close circle of confidants.
“Putin’s financiers”: Abramovich and Russia benefit from close relationship
According to the BBC, the close ties have remained intact, among other things, because Abramovich’s successful deals have made him “Putin’s financier” by providing the Russian government with “a significant source of income”. The money is said to have been used to finance parts of Russia’s military efforts. In addition to the Sibneft deal, the secret dossier also reported on a second manipulative auction. Accordingly, Abramovich wanted to buy the oil company Slavneft in 2002.
According to the document, the price for the sale had already been negotiated when a Chinese company got involved and offered almost twice as much for the company. However, the company had to withdraw the offer because a member of the Chinese delegation was kidnapped shortly after arriving in Moscow. BBC research confirmed the description of the kidnapping. However, it is still unclear who was responsible for the kidnapping and to what extent Abramovich knew about the events.
However, Vladimir Milov, who was Russia’s deputy energy minister at the time, assured the BBC that high-ranking political figures had already decided before the auction that Roman Abramovich should win the bid. For many influential people around the Kremlin, the Slavneft sale to China would have had negative consequences.
Ukraine war: Putin confidant Roman Abramovich apparently on the run
The oligarch’s lawyers deny any allegations. Accordingly, there was no corruption in the transactions with Sibneft and Slavneft and Abramovich therefore did not have to be under the protection of President Yeltsin. In relation to the alleged kidnapping of the Chinese representative in 2002, BBC lawyers said the allegations were “completely unfounded” and that he was “not aware of any such incident”.
Several English media reported earlier this week that Roman Abramovich is on the run as a result of sanctions in the Ukraine war. The billionaire was spotted in a VIP lounge at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport just before leaving the country on a private jet. Israeli authorities had previously announced that their country was “not a safe place for sanctioned oligarchs”.
He is reported to have made his way to Moscow, but his exact whereabouts are unknown. At the same time, according to the Daily Mail, the billionaire is currently trying to protect his possessions from the EU. Among other things, his yachts should stay in international waters. Forbes magazine estimates the oligarch’s total fortune at more than 6.3 billion euros. (iwe) *fr.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.