Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, businessman Roman Abramovich had it all.
Aside from owning a vast number of assets, he also enjoyed close ties to Putin, officials said.
But a series of Western sanctions left the oligarch scrambling to sell his lavish assets.
Roman Abramovich is one of Russia’s most recognizable oligarchs.
The billionaire once had a vast luxury empire that included superyachts, private jets, flashy cars, extravagant real estate, and —most notably — the London soccer team Chelsea Football Club.
Abramovich has Russian, Israeli, and Portuguese citizenship. But because of the soccer club and his real estate, the UK was largely seen as his adoptive home.
The oligarch, who used to be the governor of a remote Arctic province called Chukotka, also enjoyed closed ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Western officials said.
Source: European Union
So when Putin launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring country Ukraine, Abramovich was among the handful of Russian oligarchs who paid the price.
In March, Abramovich was sanctioned by the European Union and the UK after ministers accused him of having ties to Putin, and — by extension — “blood on his hands.”
Abramovich had all of his assets frozen and was banned from travelling to Britain, The Guardian reported.
Source: The Guardian
A few days after the start of the war, Abramovich said he was selling Chelsea FC, ending 19 years of ownership.
Abramovich announced he was selling the Premier League soccer team on March 2.
“I have therefore taken the decision to sell the Club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners,” he said in a statement at the time.
“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine,” he added.
Other than the euphemistic mention of “victims”, the statement did not address the specifics of the war, blame Russia for invading, or mention the sanctions that forced the sale.
In May 200 the $5.3 billion sale was completed, and the club now belongs to LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and investment company Clearlake Capital Group.
Before he was sanctioned, Abramovich was also rushing to offload some of his glitzy London real estate, reports said at the time.
It is unclear whether he was successful in selling the properties.
While many Russian oligarchs had their yachts seized following the sanctions, Abramovich was able to move his to safety.
Abramovich owns two of the world’s most expensive superyachts: the $600 million Solaris and the $700 million Eclipse. As of December 15, both of the superyachts were in Turkey, tracking data shows.
Oligarchs who couldn’t get their yachts out of European or US waters in time found their vessels seized, and in some cases auctioned off.
In June, a federal judge in New York authorized US officials to seize two of Roman Abramovich’s private jets, saying that both jets flew to Russia in March — violating export restrictions.
It is unclear whether these jets have been seized yet.
Source: The Guardian
Abramovich hasn’t publicly condemned the war in Ukraine…
… but he acted as an envoy in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in the weeks after the invasion.
“I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,” a spokesman for the ex-owner of Chelsea told Sky News at the time.
After attending peace talks at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in March, Abramovich suffered symptoms consistent with poisoning. He made a full recovery.
The symptoms included peeling of the skin, and red eyes, Insider previously reported.
Abramovich reportedly asked doctors if he was dying.
His 27-year-old daughter, Sofia Abramovich, condemned the war in Ukraine, writing in an Instagram Stories post in March: “The biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.”
Source: The Times of London
This in 2022, Abramovich has been spending most of his time in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, where governments have not imposed any sanctions on Russian oligarchs.
Local media reported that Abramovich is looking to buy real estate in Turkey, though Insider was unable to independently verify these reports.
In June, he sued the European Union to unfreeze his assets and unblock his visa. The proceedings are ongoing.
But new troubles keep coming. In December 2022, Canada said it would start the process of seizing $26 million from Granite Capital Holdings Ltd. — a company owned by Abramovich.
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland accused Russian oligarchs of being complicit in the “illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine” in a statement, adding that the country “will not be a haven for their ill-gotten gains.”
Source: Canadian government
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