Roman Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain, it was reported last night.
The billionaire oligarch’s future as Chelsea football club owner and as a resident were thrown into fresh doubt after an MP told parliament he was looking at offers to his Kensington mansion and riverside penthouse.
Abramovich is set to receive bids for the club ‘this week’ amid mounting pressure for the billionaire to step aside after being seen as an ally of Vladimir Putin.
The 55-year-old, who is said to be worth £12 billion, announced his intention to place the stewardship of the club in the hands of the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation last week – two days after Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The Charity Commission however has received a ‘serious incident report’ from the trustees amid concerns about how Abramovich’s plan can be enacted.
Roman Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain, it was reported last night
Now Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million. The property sits on a road between several embassies and is guarded at each end
Abramovich also wants to offload a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22 million
Now Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22 million.
Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for Abramovich to be sanctioned, claiming he is already selling off his assets.
‘Abramovich, he’s terrified of being sanctioned, which is why he’s going to sell his home tomorrow and sell another flat,’ Mr Bryant said in the House of Commons.
Mr Bryant added that he had ‘anxiety’ that the delay to formally targeting Abramovich could mean the billionaire will ‘have sold everything by the time we get round to sanctioning him’.
According to The Times, staff at his Kensington property, which is on the same road as several high-security embassies, were told to expect viewings.
Chinese buyers are said to be interested in the mansion, but a sale could be a drawn out protracted affair given the cost and due diligence agents would have to carry out.
Abramovich are not known after he was reported to be in Belarus to assist as an unlikely broker in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine on Monday. His superyacht Solaris (pictured) was moored in Barcelona.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (pictured at Stamford Bridge) could receive offers for the club this week as Government-imposed sanctions loom over him
Abramovich has become a less frequent visitor to London in recent years following issues with his entrepreneurial visa. He has Israeli and Portuguese citizenship on top of being a Russian national.
His whereabouts are not known after he was reported to be in Belarus to assist as an unlikely broker in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine on Monday.
His private jet was logged on Tuesday landing at Moscow but took off again. A helicopter owned by him was flying in the Caribbean, while his superyacht Solaris was moored in Barcelona.
Abramovich’s focus is expected to be on the succession of offers said to be lined up for Chelsea this week as the threat of Government sanctions loom over him.
At least three parties are interested in purchasing the west London club, The Telegraph reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured alongside Abramovich in 2016. The Chelsea owner has been accused of being an enabler of the President’s regime
Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home in west London on Monday after Abramovich passed stewardship to the club’s charitable foundation
A view of central square of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, after heavy shelling from Russia on Tuesday
Smoke rises from a damaged armored vehicle at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, on Tuesday
Chelsea have previously said the club is not for sale, but there is growing feeling that Abramovich could be left with little choice.
It comes as immigration officials are reportedly under instructions to make it impossible for Abramovich – who owns a £125million mansion near Kensington Palace – to base himself in the UK with claims he is preparing to sell the property.
If the Chelsea owner is hit with sanctions this week, though, the interested parties may have to wait to find out if they are even able to trade with him.
Abramovich rejected a massive offer to buy Chelsea from US financier Todd Boehly as it fell short of his £3billion valuation in 2019. The club also is in a £1.51bn debt to him – a figure he could ask to be repaid.
Potential bidders are understood to have been encouraged by his move to hand the day-to-day operations of the club to its foundation last week.
While Chelsea claim the move was to create distance between club and owner, interested parties have identified the move as a step closer towards a sale.
However, the club have been asked to prove that Abramovich’s plan would not represent a breach of its charitable status.
The Charity Commission contacted the club and the foundation on Monday to ask for more details of the Russian’s proposal — which the trustees have yet to accept.
Chelsea will be expected to spell out how the club and the foundation can remain separate entities if they are run by the same people, although a number of the trustees may opt to walk away due to their own misgivings.
Abramovich said in a statement issued on Saturday night: ‘During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities.
‘I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.
‘I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans.’
Today an emotional Thomas Tuchel demanded reporters stop asking him questions over the Ukraine-Russia conflict because he feels ‘bad’ and is ‘not a politician’.
Tuchel refused to be drawn in on questions about Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (right)
The visibly annoyed Chelsea boss was taking questions ahead of his side’s FA Cup clash with Luton Town on Wednesday but was confronted a number of times on the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.
A clearly frustrated Tuchel slapped the table after being asked for his opinion on the conflict and Abramovich’s current status as owner of Chelsea.
He said: ‘It’s too much for me to answer. I am not aware of the details and the whole situation.
‘There are situations, like war, that are so much more important than football, this will never change. Situations like war are so much more important.
‘The role of Mr Abramovich is not on me to comment because we don’t know enough about it.’
Abramovich vehemently denies he is close to the Kremlin or has done anything that would merit sanctions being imposed against him.