Jersey freezes assets worth £5.4bn linked to Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich has been hit with a freezing order on assets of nearly £5.4 billion as police in the Channel Islands searched properties linked to the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

The Royal Court of Jersey issued an order freezing the sanctioned Russian oligarch’s assets while the law officers’ department on the crown dependency said police raided premises suspected of being connected to his businesses.

Officials said yesterday that the court imposed a “saisie judiciaire”, or a formal restraining order, over Abramovich’s assets, either in Jersey or owned by the island’s incorporated entities.

The law department and Jersey police refused to provide any further details.

Officials from Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean claimed earlier this month they were willing to help UK agencies seize two yachts docked in its ports said to be owned by Abramovich.

It is understood that yachts linked to the oligarch are worth a total of $1.2 billion and some are docked in Turkey.

A 50m yacht, Aquamarine, linked to Abramovich was reported to have been transferred to a Jersey company on the day that Russian tanks crossed the border into Ukraine in February.

The Jersey freezing order could significantly impede the Russian’s spending power, depending on which yardstick is used to measure his total wealth.

The US business magazine Forbes says that Abramovich is worth about £6.36 billion. The Bloomberg news agency, however, estimates his total wealth at £10.6 billion.

The news agency reports that the 55-year-old businessman has long-standing links to Jersey. It claims that Camberley International Investments, which has an address in Saint Helier, the island’s capital, is the provider of an outstanding £1.07 billion loan to the west London football club’s holding company.

Jersey joined the UK government last month to impose sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, including Abramovich, who ministers said was closely linked to the Russian regime of President Putin.

At the time, Ian Gorst, the Jersey minister for external relations and financial services, said the island was “co-operating with the UK in all measures, including in respect of those persons with links to Jersey who have been subject to sanctions”.

Gorst added that “severe criminal consequences” would be used for those who failed to comply.

The EU also followed the UK government’s lead by sanctioning Abramovich. Brussels said in a statement the oligarch had “long and close ties” to Putin that gave him “privileged access to the president”.

The UK sanctions put Chelsea FC under a special licence with Whitehall overseeing all its financial affairs. It also forced the sale of the club. It is understood that four bidders are in the frame.

The channel island, which is only 14 miles from the coast of France, is known officially as the Bailiwick of Jersey. The self-governing crown dependency has had a reputation as a tax haven for the past 100 years.

The jurisdiction remains popular with the super rich because it has no corporate, capital gains or inheritance taxes. It was estimated last year that the island’s 24 banks held deposits worth almost £106 billion.

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