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UK lawmakers criticize failure to use funds from Russian oligarch Abramovich's sale of Chelsea FC for Ukraine

by Nate Ostiller January 31, 2024 3:58 PM 2 min read
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) during a meeting on July 19, 2016 in Sochi, Russia. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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The U.K.'s House of Lords issued a report on Jan. 31 condemning the "incomprehensible" failure of the government to spend frozen funds from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's sale of Chelsea football club (FC) on aid for Ukraine.

Abramovich has a net worth estimated to be around $9 billion and has Russian, Israeli, and Portuguese citizenship. He was formerly the governor of the Chukotka region in Russia's far east and previously owned Chelsea FC, which he was forced to sell after the outbreak of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The sale of Chelsea FC generated 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion), which Abramovich said he would donate to Ukraine.

Almost 20 months later, the funds remain in a bank account in the U.K. and have yet to be spent on aid for Ukraine. The impasse appears to be related to a disagreement between the U.K. and Abramovich about how the funds should be spent.

It "reflects poorly on Mr. Abramovich and the government for failing to enter into a more binding commitment," the report said.

"The Committee urges the government to use all available legal levers to solve this impasse rapidly so that Ukraine can receive much needed, promised, and long overdue relief."

Abramovich and other top Russian oligarchs were sanctioned after the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

He filed a challenge against the decision at the EU court in Brussels, saying that he had no influence over the Kremlin's decisions and that his business interests were not connected to the war.

Abramovich lost his appeal to be removed from the sanctions list in December 2023.

Shortly after the outbreak of the full-scale invasion, Abramovich participated in peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

Bloomberg reported that he visited Kyiv as part of the talks in April 2022, which his spokesperson denied.

Later in the year, Abramovich met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to help negotiate a prisoner exchange.

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