Former Chelsea owner Abramovich loses legal action against EU sanctions


BRUSSELS — Former Chelsea soccer team owner Roman Abramovich lost a legal attempt to overturn European Union sanctions imposed on him for his role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with an EU court dismissing his claim Wednesday.

Abramovich filed a lawsuit at the EU’s general court against the European Council, which put the 57-year-old oligarch under sanctions in 2022 as part of measures targeting Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s close allies.

“The General Court dismisses the action brought by Mr. Abramovich, thereby upholding the restrictive measures taken against him,” the court said Wednesday. “The Council did not in fact err in its assessment by deciding to include, then maintain Mr. Abramovich’s name on the lists at issue, in the light of his role in the Evraz group and, in particular, its parent company.”

When it sanctioned Abramovich, the EU said he “had privileged access” to Putin and “maintained very good relations with him,” allowing the tycoon to “maintain his considerable wealth.” According to the 27-nation bloc, Abramovich’s economic activities provided substantial revenues to the Russian government.

“He is a major shareholder of the steel group Evraz, which is one of Russia’s largest taxpayers,” the European Council, which is composed of the leaders of EU member nations, said at the time. “He has therefore been benefiting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of Ukraine.”

Abramovich, whose claim for compensation was also dismissed, can appeal the ruling.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Abramovich’s press team expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and said he “does not have the ability to influence the decision making of any government, including Russia, and has in no way benefited from the war.”

“The court’s decision to maintain the sanctions against Mr. Abramovich were based purely on the court defining Mr. Abramovich as a ‘Russian businessman,’ which under today’s very broad EU regulations is sufficient to remain sanctioned even if you are just a passive shareholder in a business sector with no connection to the war,” the statement said.

Abramovich also been punished in Britain and had his assets frozen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich sold Chelsea after being sanctioned by the British government for what it called his enabling of Putin’s “brutal and barbaric invasion” of Ukraine. The sale of the Premier League club for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) — then the highest price ever paid for a sports team — was completed by a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.

It marked the end of the trophy-filled, 19-year tenure of Abramovich.

The EU has imposed 12 rounds of sanctions on Russia since President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine almost two years ago. The measures have targeted the energy sector, banks, companies and markets, and made over 1,000 Russian officials subject to asset freezes and travel bans.


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