Mar 10, 2022 - Economy

U.K. adds Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich to sanctions list

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich attends the opening of the 7th Moscow Jewish Film Festival at Karo 11 Oktyabr Cinema.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich at the 2021 Moscow Jewish Film Festival. Photo: Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich was among seven Russian oligarchs to have their assets frozen by the United Kingdom's government on Thursday due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: The sanctions mean the planned sale of Abramovich's English soccer team is now effectively on hold as Chelsea is among the assets the billionaire businessman has had seized, per a statement from the U.K. government.

  • There's "a prohibition on transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses, a travel ban and transport sanctions imposed" on Abramovich, according to the statement.

Flashback: Abramovich announced his intention to sell English Premier League side Chelsea earlier this month as calls grew for him to be sanctioned for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Details: The U.K. government said in its statement that it had issued a license authorizing soccer-related activities to continue at Chelsea FC.

  • The club said in a statement later Thursday that under the license it can "fulfill our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively."
  • It added that it will "engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence," which includes "seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible."

The big picture: The billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska, a former business partner of Abramovich's who has stakes in En+ Group, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, whom the British government called "Putin's right-hand man," were also added to the U.K. government's "consolidated list of financial sanctions targets."

  • The others were VTB bank chair Andrey Kostin; Alexei Miller, CEO of energy company Gazprom; Nikolai Tokarev, president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft; and Dmitri Lebedev, chair of the board of directors of Bank Russia.

What they're saying: "There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

  • "Today's sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people," Johnson added.
  • "We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies."

Go deeper: Axios explains Ukraine

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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