A popular tax haven in the English Channel is freezing assets worth more than $7 billion linked to Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch sanctioned last month by the UK government.
The Island of Jersey, a self-governing Crown Dependency of the UK and a haven for foreign investors, ordered Abramovich’s assets frozen after local authorities raided addresses believed to be connected to him in one of the latest attempts to target the billionaire over his alleged ties to the Kremlin, the New York Post reported.
No description of the assets has been released, but they were either located on the island or owned by entities incorporated there, according to the Post.
“The government of Jersey continues to stand alongside the UK and international partners and has implemented all UK and UN sanctions deployed in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine,” Ian Gorst, the island’s minister for external relations and financial services, told the Financial Times.
Abramovich, who, according to the Guardian, became a billionaire through the privatization of Russia’s state-owned assets in the 1990s, has faced intense scrutiny from Western officials since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine in February.
Abramovich, who purchased the Premier League soccer club Chelsea F.C. in 2003, announced in February that he would hand over “stewardship” of the club to its charitable arm ahead of possible sanctions. The UK government sanctioned the mogul weeks later, and French authorities have reportedly seized 12 properties he owns in that country, including a $120 million mansion on the Riviera.
On Thursday, the UK announced it was further freezing up to $13 billion worth of assets held by two of his associates, Eugene Tenenbaum and David Davidovich.
Abromovich has a fleet of superyachts worth more than $1 billion that could also soon be seized. Two of the vessels took to the sea when the UK began imposing sanctions, according to the Post.
Over the past few years, Abramovich has moved multiple assets to Jersey from the British Virgin Islands, where the UK government exerts more direct control, according to the FT. Those assets reportedly include helicopters and at least one yacht.
The oligarch has also invested in U.S. real estate, including townhouses on New York City’s Upper East Side which he planned to combine into one mansion. Abramovich ultimately transferred ownership of those properties to his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova in 2018 for more than $92 million.
He also owns two homes near Aspen, Colorado, property records show: a 200-acre estate for which he paid $36.4 million in 2008, and a smaller home which he bought for $11.8 million in the same year.
[NYP] — Victoria Pruitt