Roman Abramovich's £50m private plane has been flown from Russia to Israel after the oligarch was hit by crippling sanctions from the UK government over his ties to Vladimir Putin
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Roman Abramovich’s £50m private plane has been flown from Russia to Israel after the oligarch was hit by crippling sanctions from the UK government over his ties to Vladimir Putin.

The Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – arrived from Moscow into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday night, according to flight tracking websites.

It is not known if Abramovich, who has Israeli citizenship, was on the plane as it arrived in Israel.

The Chelsea Football Club owner was sanctioned earlier this week and had at least £3.2billion of UK assets frozen, preventing him carrying out a quick sale of the club and his London homes.

Roman Abramovich's £50m private plane has been flown from Russia to Israel after the oligarch was hit by crippling sanctions from the UK government over his ties to Vladimir Putin

Roman Abramovich’s £50m private plane has been flown from Russia to Israel after the oligarch was hit by crippling sanctions from the UK government over his ties to Vladimir Putin

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world. 

The UK has said the billionaire, who has owned Chelsea for 20 years, is ‘associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin’. 

The Government also said Mr Abramovich had received financial benefits from the Kremlin, including tax breaks for his companies, the buying and selling of shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and contacts in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.   

Mr Abramovich now cannot sell any of his UK assets including Chelsea without a special licence that can only be granted by ministers and the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI). 

But the embattled Chelsea Football Club was thrown a lifeline last night as Ministers agreed it could be sold by its sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

The Gulfstream G650ER jet - registration LX-Ray - arrived from Moscow into Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday night, according to flight tracking websites

The Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – arrived from Moscow into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday night, according to flight tracking websites

Tough restrictions were eased to allow the sale to go through after the 55-year-old oligarch reportedly agreed that he would not receive any proceeds from the £3 billion deal.

Abramovich was also said to have agreed to write off £1.5 billion debt he is owed by Chelsea, which he bought in 2003.

Due to the sanctions, any cash he holds in the UK are now frozen in accounts if he has not been able to transfer funds abroad, while his shares on the London Stock Exchange cannot be sold and will pay no dividends. 

But despite these serious allegations, the law doesn’t allow ministers to take away Chelsea, properties, yachts, planes, shares and cash. 

Currently the Government has powers to freeze UK assets like houses, but it cannot seize them and put them to a different use. The rules in place prevent oligarchs from renting out or selling property they own, hiring someone to clean it or even paying a power company to connect it to the electricity supply or pay a bill. 

Abramovich’s current location is unknown, but he has recently been in Belarus ‘trying to help’ negotiate an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine following its illegal invasion of the country.

But it has today emerged that his private jet landed in Israel – though it was not clear if the Russian-Israeli billionaire was on the flight.  

Meanwhile, Israel’s official Holocaust museum has implored the US to exclude Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich from sanctions because it’s worried it will hurt donations.

Abramovich, who’s among Russia’s best-known oligarchs, and was born to a Jewish family, just last week made a ‘generous’, eight-figure donation to Yad Vashem, a spokesman said. 

Although the extent of his long-term contributions isn’t known, Abramovich – who immigrated to Israel in 2018 – has given more than $500 million to Israeli and Jewish causes in recent years, the Times of Israel reported.

As talk of sanctions began in early February in anticipation of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Yab Vashem and other organizations in a letter to US Ambassador Tom Nides called for Abramovich to be exempted from any financial punishments.

Abramovich, 55, is Yad Vashem’s second-largest private donor, the Washington Post reported. The U.S. has not yet sanctioned Abramovich. 

Whilst Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country aims to keep a good relationship with Moscow.     

Israel’s ties with Russia are of strategic importance. Israel relies on Russia for security coordination in Syria, where Russia has a military presence and where Israeli jets have frequently struck targets said to be weapons caches destined for Israel’s enemies. 

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