Today, the United Kingdom added seven Russian businessmen to its asset freeze list. Chief among the designations are Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, and Oleg Deripaska.
Mr. Abramovich is best known for being the owner of Chelsea Football Club, which plays in England’s Premier League. Mr. Sechin, who is already subject to U.S. and EU sanctions, is the CEO of Rosneft, a major Russian oil and gas company, and Oleg Deripask, who retains a minority stake in Rusal, a large Russian aluminum producer that was subject to U.S. sanctions in 2018. Also included in today’s asset freeze list are the following prominent Russian figures:
- Dmitri Alekseevich Lebedev
- Alexei Borisovich Miller
- Andrei Leonidovich Kostin
- Nikolai Petrovich Tokarev
All accounts, and other funds or economic resources, and any funds owned or controlled by designated individuals and entities in the UK must be frozen and UK persons must refrain from dealing with frozen funds or assets unless authorized. As with U.S. blocking restrictions, reporting and anti-circumvention requirements apply.
One of the most noted impacts of today’s designations is what the asset freeze restriction on Mr. Abramovich means for the future of Chelsea FC. Under a General License issued today, Chelsea is able to complete its remaining Premier League and UEFA Champions League fixtures. The license allows the club to pay all staff, including players and coaches, and allows those fans who purchased tickets prior to today’s designation to attend home matches. However, many of the clubs future commercial activities are severely restricted. Funds due to the club as the result of prior player sales or broadcasting rights deals received after today must be frozen. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Abramovich announced his intention to sell Chelsea FC, but today’s designation puts an end to that plan, at least for now. The UK government has indicated that it would need to license any potential sale, and that it would not allow Mr. Abramovich to receive the sale proceeds. It is not yet clear how today’s action will impact the club’s ability to sign new players in the summer.