Roman Abramovich ‘should no longer be able to own’ Chelsea because of ‘links to Russian state’, says UK MP

Roman Abramovich should no longer be able to own Chelsea, a British Labour MP has said.

uring discussions over the UK government’s response to the crisis in Ukraine, Chris Bryant – the Labour MP for the Rhondda – said the Russian billionaire should no longer be able to own the London club, which he purchased in 2003.

Bryant said he had seen “a leaked document from 2019 from the [British] home office, which says in relation to Mr Abramovich – ‘As part of HMG’s Russia strategy aimed at targeting illicit finance and malign activity, Abramovich remains of interest to HMG due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices’.”

Bryant continued: “‘HMG is focused on ensuring that his link to illicit finance and malign activity are unable to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal, including immigration powers to prevent this’.

“That is nearly three years ago and yet remarkably little has been done in relation. Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?

“Surely, we should be looking at seizing some of his assets, including his £152m home? And making sure that other people who have had Tier 1 visas like this are not engaged in malign activity?”

Commons leader Mark Spencer replied: “He will know under the sanctions passed in the house this week there is the opportunity for the government to take very strong action against high-profile Russian individuals who are of concern.

“He will be aware that the home secretary will be at this despatch box next Monday for home office questions and I am sure he will be able to challenge her directly.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson incorrectly stated in British parliament earlier this week that Abramovich was already facing sanctions, admitting afterwards that he “misspoke”.

Abramovich has repeatedly denied that he has close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 55-year-old withdrew his application for a UK visa in 2018 during Theresa May’s time as British prime minister and has now obtained citizenship in Israel and Portugal.

The Chelsea owner attended his first match in more than three years last November.

Chelsea have become the most decorated English club during Abramovich’s ownership, winning 18 major trophies. This month’s triumph in the Club World Cup sealed a clean sweep of titles, with the Blues now having won every trophy available to them during his tenure.

© Evening Standard

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