Truss suggests Chelsea's Abramovich will NEVER be welcome back in UK

Liz Truss suggests Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Putin cronies will NEVER be welcome back in the UK as she warns the Russian government ‘there are more on our list’ of people to sanction

  • She warned oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin ‘there will need to be a reckoning’ 
  • Russian-born Abramovich scrambling to rescue his crumbling business empire
  • UK assets, including current European and World Champions, have been frozen 

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may never be able to return to the UK following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Liz Truss suggested today.

The Foreign Secretary warned oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin ‘there will need to be a reckoning’ over their backing for his despotic regime.

Abramovich is scrambling to rescue his crumbling business empire and personal effects after being hit by UK and EU sanctions. 

His UK assets, including the current European and World Champions, have been frozen and he is finding is hard to travel as more countries ban him from arriving.

Ms Truss warned this morning there was no guarantee sanctioned oligarchs would be free to return to the UK after the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine ends.

The Foreign Secretary also said she did not think the conflict was ‘near the end’, in comments made on Sky News.

Put to her that Mr Abramovich could return once Russian troops had withdrawn, Ms Truss said: ‘No, I haven’t said that.

‘Because I’m saying even if the war was to end – and I fear we are not near the end, at this stage – huge devastation has been caused, lives have been lost as a result of this war.

‘And there will need to be a reckoning with all the people who supported Putin, including Abramovich.’

Abramovich is scrambling to rescue his crumbling business empire and personal effects after being hit by UK and EU sanctions.

The Foreign Secretary warned oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin ‘there will need to be a reckoning’ over their backing for his despotic regime.

Roman Abramovich now ‘exercises effective control’ of Evraz, a steelmaker which ‘potentially supplies steel’ for Russian tanks, according to the UK Government. His stake is worth £420million.

He moved his large shareholding in a Russian steelmaking firm eight days before Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

The Chelsea owner transferred his shares in Evraz, the Russian steelmaking giant, directly to himself from an offshore company on February 16, just over a week before Vladimir Putin ordered the Ukraine invasion.

Analysts have said that the transfer of the 28.64 per cent shareholding, from Virgin Islands-registered Greenleas International Holdings Ltd, could make it less vulnerable to the sanctions which have followed the invasion. It could also make the shareholding easier to sell. The value of the shares have plummeted since Putin’s forces attacked Ukraine.

Grzegorz Kuczynski, director of the Eurasia Program at the Warsaw Institute, told Sportsmail: ‘There was a risk that this offshore company would become a subject of sanctions.’

Mr Kuczynski also said that the steel company’s material was used to make tanks and was a significant part of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

He said: ‘Evraz steel is used to build tanks, amongst other things. The company is important for the Russian arms industry, in this sense. It is important for Russia’s war plans, including with regard to Ukraine.’

But a spokesperson for Abramovich insisted that Evraz steel manufactured in Russia was not used for military. The spokesperson said the Russian produced steel was only used for ‘rail and construction.’

She said the UK was working with allies ‘in the G7 and beyond’ to ensure oligarchs have ‘nowhere where it is legitimate for them to live their lifestyles, have their yachts or have their planes’.

Last night it was reported that ownership of an investment company linked to Mr Abramovich was transferred to one of the 55-year-old billionaire’s closest allies the day that Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal said that Norma Investments Ltd – which has been linked to Abramovich in the past in financial filings in the US and UK – was transferred on February 24 to a man described by Forbes as Abramovich’s ‘right hand man’.

David Davidovich, 59, is himself worth an estimated $1.6 billion (£1.2billion). 

A source close to Davidovich, who was photographed walking with Abramovich in Scotland in 2015, confirmed to The Journal that he had taken control of Norma, but denied that Abramovich was the ultimate owner.

Davidovich’s investment in Norma ‘is part of his overall investments and interest in the startup sector,’ the person said. 

Norma’s interests include investments in US and UK-based renewable energy firms. 

It also helped fund cancer research, as well as tests on an anti-aging drug by US-based biotech firm Cleveland BioLabs Inc, according to the WSJ. 

Britain hit 350 more Russians with sanctions yesterday as it stepped up the economic fight against Vladimir Putin – with swingeing new taxes on vodka. 

Ministers said the new wave of sanctions meant that more than 1,000 Russian firms and businesses have been prevented from making money in or visiting the UK.

The new wave of around 370 today includes more than 50 oligarchs and their families, plus politicians including puppet prime minister Mikhail Mishustin, defence minister Sergei Shoigu and former president Dmitry Medvedev. 

Individuals added to the list including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, the men behind the company which owns Holland & Barrett and who have resigned from its advisory board after being sanctioned internationally. 

A notorious internet ‘troll farm’, the Internet Research Agency, has also been sanctioned. 

It came after the Department of International Trade slapped huge new punitive import taxes on Russian luxury goods and economic staples to increase the pressure on Moscow’s war machine.

Sales of booze, furs, white fish and a host of other commodities will be hit with a 35 per cent increase in levies, the Department for International Trade revealed.

The tax will also apply to sales of metals including iron, steel, copper and silver, as well as cereals, machinery and machinery.

At the same time the sale of luxury items to Russia is to be blocked, ending sales of items including luxury vehicles like Rolls-Royces, designer clothing and art.

G7 Governments have said they will impose punitive tariffs on trade to further isolate Moscow from the global economy.

The group of wealthy nations said it would strip Russia of its ‘most favoured nation’ status under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

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