UK could struggle to sanction Russian ‘oligarchs’ – media
Punitive measures could take “weeks and months,” according to The Times
Russia’s wealthiest tycoons may not be hit immediately by British embargos, a media report has claimed, alleging that the government has been unable to build a substantive case against them.
In a report published by The Times on Thursday, it was alleged that the Foreign Office and National Crime Agency have so far failed to mount “reasonable grounds” for targeting the most influential moguls, such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, with sanctions because “they have struggled to link their finances to” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the publication, the crime agency tried to put forward a case against Abramovich in 2018, but failed. British ministers have also reportedly been warned that Russian billionaires could sue the government “for millions” if punitive measures are applied on a “flawed basis.”
With the threat of sanctions hanging over billionaires, they are already said to be transferring their cash out of the country. Nigel Kushner, the chief executive of W Legal, who provides advice to Russia’s wealthiest on sanctions, alleges that individuals have already come forward asking for help on how to move their funds.
Earlier this week, Abramovich officially confirmed that the football club is on the market. Announcing the move in a statement on Wednesday, he said the sale of the club is in its best interests, as well as those of Chelsea’s employees, partners and sponsors.
He also revealed that proceeds from the sale “will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
A number of Western officials have called for sanctions against Russia’s super-rich in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last week. On Thursday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington wants Putin “to feel the squeeze,” as well as the “people around him” after the US imposed full blocking sanctions on eight billionaires and officials.