LONDON—The British government ratcheted up pressure on Kremlin-linked businesspeople, sanctioning a handful of Russian oligarchs, including
the billionaire owner of British soccer club Chelsea FC.
It was the first time any Western government has moved on Mr. Abramovich. His trophy assets, including Chelsea, high-end property in London and mega yachts, have helped turn him into one of the highest-profile oligarchs now facing scrutiny from officials in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S., U.K. and European Union have led global efforts to punish and pressure Russian President
for the invasion through a raft of sanctions on banks and the country’s central bank, as well as through restrictions on oil purchases in some cases and by targeting the assets of Putin associates, Russian government officials and business people viewed as close to Moscow.
The U.K. government said Thursday that it was sanctioning Mr. Abramovich due to his “preferential treatment and concessions from Putin” and said that a U.K.-listed steel company he partly owns is supplying steel to the Russian military. A spokeswoman for Mr. Abramovich didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Abramovich has a net worth estimated at 9.4 billion pounds, equivalent to $12.4 billion, the British government said. His U.K. assets will now be frozen, and he will be barred from traveling to Britain, the government said. Mr. Abramovich has already said he is in the process of trying to sell Chelsea, and a person familiar with the matter said he has put his London properties on the market.
The government said that it would provide a special license to allow Chelsea to continue to operate, despite the sanctions. The sales of the club and Mr. Abramovich’s houses are now blocked. The U.K. Treasury must grant a license to allow any sale to proceed. Mr. Abramovich won’t be permitted to receive any proceeds of the sale, according to the government.
The sanctions effectively exile Mr. Abramovich: He can’t pay for electricity to his properties or buy a cup of coffee in the U.K., officials said.
The U.K. also announced a swath of sanctions against several other Russian oligarchs including tycoon Oleg Deripaska;
the chief executive of
chairman of VTB Bank; and
chief executive of Russian energy giant
The announcement marks the U.K.’s most high-profile sanctions sweep to date. Representatives for these individuals weren’t immediately available to comment.