UK PM ‘misspoke’ over Roman Abramovich sanctions

Boris Johnson claimed in the House of Commons that Chelsea Football Club’s owner was “facing sanctions”

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “misspoke” when he claimed Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was “already facing sanctions.”

Laying out his government’s sanctions in response to Russia’s recognition of the breakaway republics in Ukraine’s eastern region, Johnson stated that measures had previously been taken against the businessman.

However, as Johnson left the House of Commons on Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant challenged the claim, calling on Johnson to correct the record after he gave a “false indication” that Abramovich had been sanctioned.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson stated that he was sure Johnson would issue a correction, but did not specify when or how he would seek to do so.

Abramovich settled a lawsuit in December against HarperCollins, having accused it of making an unsubstantiated claim in the book ‘Putin’s People’ that he had purchased Chelsea FC at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The publisher agreed to amend future copies to remove the allegation.

Back in February 2021, the UK’s Times newspaper issued a correction after having “wrongly claimed that Mr Roman Abramovich had lost his UK citizenship and reported that he had made his money selling state assets after the fall of the Soviet Union.” In response to the “errors,” the Times made a donation to a charity of Abramovich’s choosing.

Britain’s Independent newspaper issued an apology earlier in the same month for publishing an article about Abramovich, where it accused him of being a “bag carrier” for Putin’s illicit wealth. The media outlet accepted that the claim has no foundation.

According to Forbes, Abramovich has a net worth of around $13 billion, making him the 12th-richest person in Russia. He made his fortune amid the privatization of oil and metal industries in Russia during the 1990s. He purchased the English Premier League football club Chelsea in 2003.

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