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Seven more oligarchs sanctioned by UK
Roman Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the UK Government today.
The Government estimates his wealth at more than £9billion and notes his stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and ownership of Chelsea FC.
‘He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin,’ a Government spokesman said.
The other oligarchs sanctioned today are:
- Oleg Deripaska: Estimated wealth of £2billion and a multi-million-pound Uk property portfolio. Subject to US sanctions since 2018. Has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers.
- Igor Sechin: Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. The Government said he is ‘particularly close and influential ally of Putin’. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Andrey Kostin: Chairman of VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia. A ‘close associate of Putin’ who has ‘long supported Kremlin objectives through VTB Bank’. Net worth of £379 million. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Alexei Miller: Chief executive of of energy company Gazprom. Served under Putin when autocrat was mayor of St Petersburg. Already sanctioned by the US.
- Nikolai Tokarev: President of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft. Former KGB agent who served alongside Putin in East Germany. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Dmitri Lebedev: Chairman of Bank Rossiya, which is ‘widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank’. Sanctioned by the US in 2016.
Lawyers branded ‘amoral’ in Parliament were this morning facing the reality of life without their lucrative Russian oligarch bankrollers – after the UK government froze their assets.
Seven enormously rich tycoons – including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – were hit with the powerful UK sanctions just after 9am.
It immediately paralysed some activities by the football club, with no new tickets able to be sold and his plans to sell the club thrown into confusion.
But any thoughts the 55-year-old Russian billionaire or any of the remaining six could challenge the decision look extremely unlikely and previously untested.
The road to any appeal is fraught with problems, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has previously vowed sanctions were ‘legally watertight so that when we hit them, the hit sticks’.
If individuals do try to challenge the decision, it forces a government minister into carrying out a review.
Then if they do not overthrow the decision, the next option is a legal challenge in the courts which can also be extremely difficult.
People who have been sanctioned have to get a special licence from the Treasury to even pay their lawyers or any court fees.
Abramovich’s lawyers of choice are Harbottle & Lewis, who as recently as last month were sending legal letters stating he was not as risk of any sanctions.
They insisted: ‘Mr Abramovich has no responsibility or influence over the behaviour of the Russian State, or provides them with support, nor is he close to the Kremlin or connected to corruption.’
It means they will be presumably surprised to read the details of the UK Sanctions decision.
The Government document spells out: ‘Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch.
‘Abramovich 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, with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades.
Roman Abramovich and unknown aides in London pictured outside court after a recent case
Lawyers Hugh Tomlinson QC and John Kelly were among those criticised in Parliament by MP
‘This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia.
‘Abramovich has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Government of Russia.’
Harbottle & Lewis have not responded to requests for a comment from MailOnline on their client.
Last week four lawyers accused of helping Kremlin cronies since the Ukraine war were named in Parliament.
Tory MP Bob Seely said Vladimir ‘Putin’s henchmen’ had teamed up ‘with amoral lawyers’ from the UK during a debate on sanctions against the Kremlin and its allies.
Tory MP Bob Seely said Vladimir ‘Putin’s henchmen’ had teamed up ‘with amoral lawyers’ from the UK during a debate on sanctions against the Kremlin and its allies
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, watched by the Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadym Prystaiko from the Public Gallery, during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday
He told the House of Commons the UK legal system had been corrupted by money from kleptocrats and accused lawyers of working on behalf of oligarchs to undermine freedom of speech and silence the Press.
Mr Seely named Harbottle & Lewis solicitor John Kelly, CMS media lawyer Geraldine Proudler, barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, and Carter-Ruck partner Nigel Tait.
It prompted Boris Johnson to say law firms representing oligarchs would ‘face sanctions’ if they fail to comply with the sanctions regime against Putin’s allies.
Those named are four of the most successful lawyers in the country and have won multiple awards for their work representing famous clients in huge court battles.
But they have also been called into question over who they help in recent years, with one representing the alleged torturer and murderer of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Another has launched multiple battles with the media over privacy and is currently representing Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah’s in the £1million ‘Wagatha’ war with Coleen Rooney.
And one more works for a firm that tried to quash details of Rolf Harris’s arrest in the media 2013, with the entertainer later being convicted of 12 indecent assaults.
The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.
‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.
‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’
The four branded ‘amoral lawyers’ by MP Bob Seely in Parliament
John Kelly: Represented celebrities such as Melania Trump… but firm also tried to quash details of Rolf Harris arrest
John Kelly is a leading reputation protection, privacy and defamation lawyer in London who has been frequently awarded for his work
John Kelly is a leading reputation protection, privacy and defamation lawyer in London who has been frequently awarded for his work.
The solicitor’s firm Harbottle & Lewis has represented numerous celebrities, but some unsavoury characters in his time, most notably the paedophile Rolf Harris.
As an investigation was launched into the now disgraced entertainer, the law firm sent threatening letters to newspapers to try to stop details of his arrest becoming widely known.
They cited Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal the public should not know the names of arrested suspects in all but ‘exceptional’ cases. One publisher was allegedly told there was ‘no public interest’ in revealing his identity.
Australian Harris was convicted of 12 indecent assaults at Southwark Crown Court in June 2014 and was sentenced to six years behind bars. But he was released from HMP Stafford on parole in May 2017 after serving three years.
Kelly himself has represented a range of celebrities, including Melania Trump, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand and the Osbournes.
Harbottle & Lewis, which is the preferred law firm for the Queen, boasts he ‘is recognised as a leading practitioner by Chambers UK, Chambers HNW, The Legal 500 and The Spear’s 500’.
It adds: ‘Whilst much of John’s work is confidential he represents a number of high-profile individuals, well-known brands, and FTSE 100 companies.’
The solicitor’s firm Harbottle & Lewis has represented some unsavoury characters in his time, most notably the paedophile Rolf Harris (pictured in 2017)
Kelly himself has represented a range of celebrities, including Melania Trump (pictured with her husband in 2020), Steve Coogan, Russell Brand and the Osbournes
He is also said to be ‘well-known’ in sports law and has represented Premiership and international clubs, players, owners, managers and agents.
Kelly was educated at Sheffield University, studying law from 1988 to 1991. He became a partner at Kelly & Co from 1999 to 2004 in Australia, before returning to London.
Here he became a partner at aggressive law firm Schillings, which now represents Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and has launched a number of cases against the Press since they split from the Royal Family.
Kelly left the firm after eight years in 2013 and moved to Harbottle & Lewis, where he has remained for almost nine years.
Geraldine Proudler: Represented alleged Magnitsky murderer and was on Guardian board
Geraldine Proudler is a media lawyer, who previously sat on the board of the Guardian’s regulators the Scott Trust, and one of whose clients was accused of involvement in the Magnitsky affair
Geraldine Proudler is a media lawyer, who previously sat on the board of the Guardian’s regulators the Scott Trust, and one of whose clients was accused of involvement in the Magnitsky affair.
The reputation and litigation expert represented former policeman Pavel Karpov while she was a partner at Olswang, which merged with Cameron McKenna with Nabarro in in 2016 to create CMS.
Lieutenant Colonel Karpov, of the Ministry of the Interior, was accused of arresting, torturing and murdering Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow in 2009.
He hired the high-flying lawyer in 2013 to sue Mr Magnitsky’s former boss William Browder – from Hermitage Capital Management – in an explosive libel claim through the High Court.
The case was branded one of the worst examples of libel tourism – where foreign nationals with little or no connection to the UK use the High Court to pursue their disputes.
Mr Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 after accusing officials of a massive tax fraud, but was later himself accused of the crime.
Karpov claimed the allegations made by Mr Browder had caused ‘serious hurt, embarrassment and distress’, with his lawyers claiming Mr Browder had wrongfully made false claims against Karpov.
His legal team was led by top QC Andrew Caldecott, but he was instructed by the high-profile media lawyer Proudler. According to the Guardian, she said at the time there was ‘not a shred of evidence against Karpov’.
The left-wing newspaper found itself at an awkward crossroads when covering the case, with columnist Nick Cohen writing: ‘To my surprise, I find that I must declare an interest.
‘Proudler is on the board of the Scott Trust, which, in the words of CP Scott, the Manchester Guardian’s great editor, exists to promote ”honesty, cleanness, courage, fairness and a sense of duty to the reader” at the Guardian.
He also questioned how Karpov could afford the high-flying lawyer, claiming the policeman’s monthly salary had been about £300 at the time.
Ms Proudler, who resides in north London (pictured), represented former police officer Pavel Karpov and Lieutenant Colonel Karpov
The reputation and litigation expert represented former policeman Pavel Karpov (pictured) while she was a partner at Olswang, which merged with Cameron McKenna with Nabarro in in 2016 to create CMS
Mr Magnitsky (pictured) was arrested in 2008 after accusing officials of a massive tax fraud, but was later himself accused of the crime
He added: ‘I’ve always rather liked Proudler and a side of me hopes she is right. But if it transpires that Karpov has been exploiting the English legal system to protect the Putin kleptocracy it will not be forgiven – or forgotten.’
Mr Browder won the defamation battle yet Karpov refused to pay his £600,000 costs and remained out of reach in Moscow.
Proudler is currently head of the reputation and media litigation practice at CMS, having been in the position since 2017. She studied law and politics at Nottingham University and left the institution with a 2:1.
After leaving university she became a partner at Lovell White Durrant until 1995 and was a director at the Guardian’s Scott Trust from 2002 until 2013.
She spent nearly 23 years at Olswang, rising up to the board and more recently has been chair of Middlesex University in London.
CMS’s website says of her: ‘She has many years experience of advising leading companies and Chief Executives on protecting their reputations and their businesses, defending responsible journalism by media companies, advising PR professionals and their clients, and advising high profile individuals.
‘Geraldine advises on reputation management issues in the widest sense.’
Hugh Tomlinson: Roman Abramovich’s lawyer who co-founded anti-Press group Hacked Off
Hugh Tomlinson QC is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in his career
Hugh Tomlinson QC is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career.
The Leeds-born, Oxford-educated lawyer last year advocated successfully in a claim against a journalist and author after she made false allegations Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC on Vladimir Putin’s orders.
The 68-year-old told the defamation hearing at the High Court in August the allegations were completely without foundation. ‘The claimant is described in the book as Putin’s cashier and the custodian of Kremlin slush funds.
‘The book alleges Abramovich covertly paid Putin large sums of money, then purchased Chelsea FC at his request in order to corrupt the British elite.’
Mr Tomlinson said the book repeats lazy inaccuracies about Abramovich’s role in various events and makes false and damaging statements about him. The libel case against Catherine Belton was settled in December.
As a result of the case, the text now recognises that the allegation that Abramovich bought Chelsea at Putin’s request is not a statement of fact.
Meanwhile the lawyer is current representing Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah’s in the £1million ‘Wagatha’ war with Coleen Rooney.
Abramovich (pictured above with Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2016) is reported to have been effectively barred from living in Britain ever again
Coleen Rooney’s (right) lawyers will call on Rebekah Vardy’s (left) agent Caroline Watt as a witness when the two warring WAGs face their £1million legal showdown in May
Just last month he argued a Whatsapp message the WAG sent to her agent saying ‘she’s a nasty bitch’ was not a reference to Ms Rooney.
Mr Tomlinson insisted the message, along with others, had been taken out of context and earlier messages showed she was talking about somebody else.
He told the court: ‘That’s not right, this isn’t a passage about Mrs Rooney, this is a passage about someone else.’
He also maintained that another message in which Ms Vardy refers to being ‘up her own a**e’ was also not about Ms Rooney, as had been alleged.
Mr Tomlinson further insisted a message in which Ms Vardy wrote to her agent, ‘would love to leak those stories’ actually indicated that she did not leak stories about Ms Rooney.
He added: ‘The question is whether stories are leaked. Her saying I would have loved to have leaked a story suggests she didn’t leak a story.
‘If you say I would have loved to have gate-crashed that party, loved to have an affair with that person, or whatever it is, it’s an indication of the reverse, not an indication that she did it.’
Former friends: Coleen Rooney (left) wife of Wayne Rooney, and Rebekah Vardy (right) wife of Jamie Vardy, attend the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England v Wales
He added: ‘It’s an expression of a desire to do something which you didn’t, not an indication that she did it.’ Mr Tomlinson has had a long career and played a part in some of the most high-profile cases the country has ever seen.
He successfully represented Prince Charles as the royal sought to stop the publishing of his Hong Kong travel diaries, saying public interest justifications were ‘far-fetched’.
Meanwhile he was on the side of Jeremy Clarkson’s ex-wife Alex Hall when he tried to – but dropped – efforts to stop her claiming they had an affair during his later marriage.
And in an earlier case, he won substantial damages for Christopher Jefferies after press coverage incorrectly associated him with the murder of his tenant Joanna Yeatesin 2010.
A year later he co-founded the campaign group Hacked Off, which he now chairs, and which has backers such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan. It calls for an inquiry into phone hacking.
Tomlinson was born in Woodhouse in Leeds where he went to Leeds Grammar School and then Balliol College, Oxford, leaving with the top first in PPE.
He then took up philosophical studies at Sussex University before going to the University of Paris in 1977. In 2000 he was a founder member of Matrix Chambers in London.
Nigel Tait from Carter-Ruck partner
Nigel Tait: Privacy lawyer who has represented Simon Cowell, Frank Bruno and James Blunt
Nigel Tait is the managing partner and head of the Defamation Media Law department at top London law form Carter-Ruck.
The Nottingham University-educated lawyer has represented the likes of Sir Elton John, Simon Cowell, Bryan Adams, Liam Gallagher, James Blunt, Frank Warren and Frank Bruno.
Mr Tait’s work covers defamation to privacy, breach of confidence, data protection and harassment.
He represented boxing promoter Mr Warren in a defamation case against publishers Random House over a statement in the book Ricky Hatton: The Hitman, My Story, in October 2007.
It was alleged that Mr Warren had misled boxer Vince Phillips about the sale of television rights in relation to his fight against Ricky Hatton.
Random House apologised to the promoter in open court and admitted the statement was ‘inaccurate’. The book was subsequently withdrawn from sale.
Mr Tait also represented musician Mr Blunt in a successful phone hacking claim against News of the World in 2012.
Promoter Frank Warren pictured during the Tyson Fury v Dilian Whyte press conference at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. He was represented by Mr Tait during a defamation case over a statement in Ricky Hatton’s book
James Blunt performs at the OVO Arena Wembley last month. He was successfully represented by Mr Tait during a phone hacking case in 2011
The singer accepted ‘substantial’ damages from News Group, which also agreed to pay his legal costs.
A statement at the time said: ‘The singer James Blunt has succesfully settled his claim against News Group Newspapers over the hacking of his voicemail by the News of the World.
‘In light of the unlawful behaviour, Mr Blunt issued proceedings against News Group Newspapers in September 2011.
‘News Group has now finally accepted that Mr Blunt was targeted by journalists at the News of the World and by Mr Mulcaire and that they unlawfully obtained his private information, including by accessing his voicemail. News Group has agreed to pay a substantial sum in damages to Mr Blunt together with his legal costs.’
Following Mr Seely’s comments in the House of Commons, Carter Ruck issued a statement denying that it represents ‘any Russian individuals, companies or entities seeking to challenge, overturn, frustrate or minimise sanctions’.
The firm added: ‘In view of the confused reporting that is currently circulating on the subject of Russia and the Putin regime, Carter-Ruck confirms the following:
‘Carter-Ruck has never acted for Russian individuals, companies or entities seeking to challenge sanctions.
‘Carter-Ruck is not acting for, and will not be acting for, any individual, company or entity associated with the Putin regime.’
Source: Daily Mail