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European Court upholds EU inclusion of billionaire Roman Abramovich on sanctions list – CNN News

By James Frater, CNN

Abramovich brought a case against the EU in 2022 seeking to annul his inclusion on the sanctions list.

London (CNN) – Russian billionaire and former owner of Premier League football club Chelsea Roman Abramovich has lost a legal challenge to overturn his inclusion on the European Union’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In its ruling the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) dismissed the action brought by Abramovich “thereby upholding the restrictive measures taken against him.”

In May 2022, Abramovich brought a case against the EU seeking to annul his inclusion on the sanctions list, CJEU documents said.

Abramovich claimed there was “manifest error” in the European Union’s assessment and the decision to include him on the list is an “infringement of fundamental rights” and “unjustified interference” of his fundamental rights enshrined in EU law.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the CJEU explained that in light of Abramovich’s role as the major shareholder of Russian steel and mining giant Evaraz, the EU “did not in fact err in its assessment by deciding to include then maintain Mr Abramovich’s name,” on the sanctions list.

The Russian and mining sector “provides a substantial source of revenue to the Russian Government,” the CJEU detailed.

The Luxembourg-based court concluded that Abramovich’s inclusion on the sanctions list did “not constitute an unjustified and disproportionate infringement of his fundamental rights.”

‘Long and close ties to Vladimir Putin’

Abramovich had also sought compensation of €1 million ($1.1 million) to be paid into a charitable foundation for damages to his reputation.

On Wednesday, the CJEU said Abramovich had failed to demonstrate that his inclusion on the sanctions list was unlawful, and “his claim for compensation is also dismissed.”

CNN has reached out to Abramovich for comment.

Abramovich was placed on the EU’s sanction list along with Russian officials, including the country’s president Vladimir Putin, prominent business leaders and oligarchs in March 2022 shortly after the conflict began.

The European Union said Abramovich “has long and close ties to Vladimir Putin,” and “has had privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him.”

A connection, the EU said, allowed the tycoon “to maintain his considerable wealth.”

“He has therefore been benefitting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine,” the EU claimed.

The EU also alleged that as “one of the leading Russian businesspersons,” Abramovich provided “a substantial source of revenue to the Government of the Russian Federation.”

To date, the European says almost 1,800 individuals and entities have been placed on the EU’s sanctions list and are subject to travel restrictions and asset freezes.

‘All victims of the war in Ukraine’

In March 2022, Abramovich announced that he was selling Chelsea and he had “instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated,” adding that “the foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

Last May, in a deal worth $5 billion, Chelsea was sold to an ownership group led by Todd Boehly, of which $3.08 billion would be donated to Abramovich’s charitable cause.

Last week the UK’s Europe Minister Leo Docherty told a parliamentary committee hearing “the proceeds from the sale are frozen in a UK bank account,” and that the government was “now going through a process of independent experts establishing a foundation to manage the money.”

“The key difference between the Government and those who have been involved” in establishing the foundation, “is whether the funds get used inside Ukraine or for Ukrainians outside of Ukraine,” Docherty told the hearing.

Docherty added that the UK government wants “to have this money deployed as quickly as possible to the benefit of Ukrainians inside Ukraine.”

Abramovich also appears on the UK’s sanctions list.

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