Without waiting for the announcement of sanctions from the British authorities, Roman Abramovich decided defiantly to step back from the management of the club. On the evening of February 26, Chelsea FC published Abramovich's appeal on the transfer of management of the club to the Chelsea Fc Foundation and its management (Board of Trustees). The leadership of this NPO includes two lawyers, Chelsea women's team coach Emma Hayes, financial director of the club Paul Ramos, director of Football Against Racism in Europe Piara Povar and British politician, head of the British Olympic Committee Hugh Robertson.
Until now, Abramovich's London personal company Fordstam Limited (which is also the owner of the club) had the status of the management company of FC Chelsea, and Abramovich's personal financier Marina Granovskaya was officially the director of the club (by the way, Chelsea has a Russian version of the site). A similar maneuver with the transfer of control was successfully carried out by the owner of Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, when American sanctions were imposed against the aluminum group in 2018. True, then a newly created trust was used, and in the case of Chelsea, we are talking about an NGO aged 13 years. But the British authorities may not appreciate such a "trick".
The fact that Abramovich is on the verge of introducing British sanctions against him was reported on February 2 by the American edition of Forbes magazine.
According to the publication, at that time the most likely recipients of the UK-prepared sanctions against Russian oligarchs were three: Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov (Metalloinvest, MegaFon), Leonid Mikhelson (the owner of Novatek, the only, in fact, private gas production company in the Russian Federation ).
Although the 55-year-old Abramovich's main asset is the Russian steel group Evraz, the businessman owns expensive real estate in the UK, and Chelsea has become his hallmark and favorite hobby. With the money withdrawn from Russia, the football club escaped bankruptcy, climbed out of the eternal third or sixth place in the standings to the rank of the European top club, and this week the Western media reported on the aggravation of Abramovich's problems with staying in the UK (he was not given the British visa from 2018 until the end of 2021) and the possible forced sale of Chelsea.
Spare in the Abramovich family-team
The businessman has seven children: two from his second marriage to Daria Zhukova (born in the United States in 2009 and 2013, that is, they have American citizenship), five more from their first marriage, they have already reached the age of majority. At least one of Abramovich's adult children is a subject of the British Queen.
Ilya, who turned 19 this month, registered Akula Collection Ltd in London in December 2020, and his citizenship and country of residence are indicated in the British corporate register. Akula Collection is listed as a car repair shop (legal address is an office center in the City), but information about the actual work of the organization could not be found in open sources.
Information about citizenship is indirectly confirmed by the British database Findmypast.co.uk, which also accumulates data from the voter lists of the United Kingdom. The name of the daughter of the oligarch Arina (born in 2001) is also found there - she probably also has British citizenship (she is not listed among the directors in the corporate register, which means that the name was taken from the lists of voters). Londoner Sofya Abramovich (born in 1997), who posted an anti-war post on Instagram the day before, is not found by this resource.
Apparently, Ilya and Arina received citizenship by birthright: Ilya Abramovich was born in 2003, just then his father bought Chelsea for 140 million pounds. Now, according to Bloomberg, the football club is worth about 1.6 billion pounds, and against the backdrop of anti-Russian pressure, there are offers to buy it. If Abramovich decides to sell Chelsea, then in the end the entrepreneur may “go to zero” or even receive income up to several hundred million pounds, because 10 years ago the club began to make a profit (FC almost did not pay dividends to the businessman).
If the billionaire, who has taken a liking to football (he also financed the Russian national team), decides to transfer Chelsea to his son, then this is a good option for insurance against sanctions, Sergei Glandin, head of sanctions law and compliance at Pen & Paper, said in an interview with the Octagon .
- Transfer the asset to the son - yes, it can be suitable as insurance. As long as the person is not under sanctions, he does what he wants. As for the question of whether the fact of the son's citizenship can come in handy in a possible challenge of the sanctions, the UK, unlike the EU, the USA and Switzerland, does not yet have judicial practice on challenging being under sanctions. They fall under sanctions as a threat to national security, therefore, I think the argument about the roots that have taken root in the country, the presence of an ex-wife and son here will not play a special role, the expert noted.
In general, Abramovich's fortune is estimated at $14 billion. In preparation for the aggravation of the international situation, in mid-February 2022, he re-registered his stake in the Evraz Plc steel group (the parent structure is registered and traded on the stock exchange in London) from an offshore company to himself personally. This happened against the backdrop of Evraz's previously announced desire to be listed on the Moscow Exchange. The last time Abramovich and his Evraz partners prepared for sanctions was in 2018, anticipating an attack from the United States. Then they parted their shares in different offshores, Abramovich's shares were recorded on Greenleas International Holdings (registered in the British Virgin Islands).
On February 24, the day the Russian troops began to attack Ukraine, it was reported that Abramovich's plane had arrived in Moscow.
Roman Abramovich has, in addition to Russian, at least the citizenship of Israel (since 2018) and Portugal. The latter became known at the end of 2021, and there is no guarantee that the country will not want to withdraw it in the event of a widespread sanctions attack on Russian oligarchs. The Portuguese authorities are already checking the legality of issuing a European passport to the former Chukotka governor. Journalists, in particular Western ones, often accuse Abramovich of close ties with the Kremlin, the businessman was also on the well-known list in the dossier on Donald Trump, but, for example, the businessman successfully challenged the thesis that he was "Putin's cashier" in a London court last year by winning a libel case.