UK Police to Apologize to Russian Businessman Abramovich

On Wednesday, a court on the English Channel island of Jersey ordered local police to apologize to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and pay damages for what it ruled to be an illegally obtained warrant to conduct raids of his properties earlier this year.

UK Police to Apologize to Russian Businessman Abramovich
Image credit: Reuters [via The Wall Street Journal]

Facts

  • On Wednesday, a court on the English Channel island of Jersey ordered local police to apologize to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and pay damages for what it ruled to be an illegally obtained warrant to conduct raids of his properties earlier this year. Jersey is a self-governing island but follows UK sanctions.
  • Sanctioned by Britain, the Royal Court of Jersey froze $7B worth of assets linked to Abramovich in April, with two warrants then issued for police to search premises suspected to be linked to him. Police have now admitted that they were obtained "unlawfully" and "should be quashed."
  • The former Chelsea soccer club owner has reportedly acted as a middleman between Russia and Ukraine, with Kyiv having previously asked the US not to impose sanctions on him — a request the US has so far heeded.
  • The EU, in contrast, has imposed sanctions on him. As a dual Portuguese citizen, he has argued that his rights protected by the EU have been violated. He's suing to reverse the decision and asking for $1M to go to a charity as compensation.
  • Abramovich made his wealth as a commodity trader after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, he acquired stakes in oil company Sibneft, aluminum producer Rusal, and the airline Aeroflot. He also served under Russian Pres. Putin as governor of the Far East Chukotka region of Russia.
  • Much of his wealth was consolidated in Jersey, with company service provider Zedra Trust Company Ltd. — set up in Jersey's capital St. Helier — administering at least a dozen companies and trusts linked to Abramovich.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and US.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by RT. After this formal acknowledgment of illegally searching Abramovich's property, it's safe to say the UK government — and UK-adjacent islands — have gone too far in attacking him. Despite reports that he doesn't even support Putin's invasion, they've stripped him of $7B, his soccer team, and now his privacy.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Bailiwick Express. Though sanctions should be imposed lawfully, we shouldn't forget the necessity of monitoring and sanctioning billionaires with deep ties to Putin, which Abramovich inarguably has. Jersey committed itself to ensure its sanctions regime fully aligned with the UK and was merely acting on that pledge in April.
  • Narrative C, as provided by Al Jazeera. It's hypocritical to impose sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, but not on the US for invading Iraq for equally unjustified reasons, or on Israel for invading and annexing Arab lands.