Why have almost 100 Russians hit with foreign sanctions been spared by Britain?


Almost 100 Russian oligarchs and politicians have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not by Britain.

Many have been buying property, paying for private schools and enjoying luxury lifestyles in the UK, a joint investigation by the Daily Mail and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

The Prime Minister has insisted that Britain is leading the way in imposing sanctions on wealthy Russians linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime, but so far only 13 have been targeted since the invasion of Ukraine began.

It has sparked fears the UK is ‘trailing its allies badly’ after the EU announced a raft of sanctions on oligarchs with close ties to Britain last week. There are also concerns that delays could allow Putin’s associates to dispose of their assets.

Almost 100 Russian oligarchs and politicians have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not by Britain. Pictured: Alexey Mordashov, chairman of the board of directors at Severstal PJSC

Almost 100 Russian oligarchs and politicians have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not by Britain. Pictured: Alexey Mordashov, chairman of the board of directors at Severstal PJSC

Analysis by the Mail and campaign group Spotlight on Corruption shows 94 Russian individuals and 17 businesses have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not the UK.

Some have lived under international restrictions for more than half a decade, but have found sanctuary in the UK.

The total does not include the 351 members of Russia’s parliament – the Duma – sanctioned by the EU. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has reportedly told MPs curbs are being held up by London law firms pushing against restrictions on their oligarch clients.

But Labour MP Chris Bryant said the Government should ‘stop being so timid’ and ‘get its act together’. He added: ‘If you’re frightened of people’s lawyers, get some backbone.’ Ministers have announced plans for an ‘Oligarch Taskforce’ in response to ongoing criticism over the speed of Britain’s measures.

Analysis by the Mail and campaign group Spotlight on Corruption shows 94 Russian individuals and 17 businesses have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not the UK. Theresa May with Ministers, fellow guests and Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin (fourth from right, next to the ex-PM)

Analysis by the Mail and campaign group Spotlight on Corruption shows 94 Russian individuals and 17 businesses have been sanctioned by the EU or US but not the UK. Theresa May with Ministers, fellow guests and Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin (fourth from right, next to the ex-PM)

It will build cases against dozens of Russians with links to Putin.

Officials are reportedly struggling to link oligarch finances to Putin, meaning they may not face sanctions for months.

It comes after No 10 was left on the back foot last week after France seized a £90million yacht belonging to Russia’s oil tsar Igor Sechin, with the EU boasting Britain was now ‘following our lead’.

Sue Hawley, of Spotlight on Corruption, said: ‘The UK is trailing its allies badly on the number of individuals and entities it has sanctioned under its Russia regime and it desperately needs to get a move on.

Petr Aven owns Ingliston House (pictured), a mansion in Virginia Water, Surrey, that has a large art collection

Petr Aven owns Ingliston House (pictured), a mansion in Virginia Water, Surrey, that has a large art collection

‘At the moment there is too much bark and not enough bite coming from the Foreign Office about how tough it’s being on Russian money in the UK.’

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC last week that the UK has sanctioned ‘more Russian banks than the EU’, including the biggest Russian lender Sberbank. He denied the UK has ‘been slow’ and is ‘at the vanguard’ of sanctioning Kremlin-linked money.

Boris Johnson faces a backbench rebellion today over new sanctions laws which critics say do not go far enough.

Ministers will expedite emergency legislation through the Commons to let the UK move faster to target oligarchs.

MPs are urging the Government to stop allies of Vladimir Putin facing sanctions from selling assets. Tory former Cabinet minister David Davis won cross-party support for an amendment enabling assets of anyone considered for sanctions to be frozen pending a decision. 

From bankers to oil tycoons, six of the lucky oligarchs 

BY MILES DILWORTH FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Alexey Mordashov

RUSSIA’S richest man was sanctioned by the EU last week, which said he was ‘benefiting from his links with Russian decision-makers’.

Mr Mordashov, 56, is the owner of steelmaker Severstal and owns a third of London-listed travel firm Tui.

Severstal previously released bulletins on how some of its products were used in making Russian defence equipment. It is not currently a major supplier of military grade steel. Mr Mordashov said he did not understand how his inclusion on the list would help resolve the conflict. He called for it to end, saying it was a ‘tragedy of two fraternal peoples’.

Tui said: ‘The EU sanctions relate to Mr Mordashov as a person, not to Tui AG, in which he is a shareholder. In this respect, these sanctions against the shareholder have no impact on the company in which he holds shares.’

No 10 was left on the back foot last week after France seized a £90million yacht belonging to Russia's oil tsar Igor Sechin, with the EU boasting Britain was now 'following our lead'. Pictured: Russian Federation Council member Suleiman Kerimov during a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council

No 10 was left on the back foot last week after France seized a £90million yacht belonging to Russia’s oil tsar Igor Sechin, with the EU boasting Britain was now ‘following our lead’. Pictured: Russian Federation Council member Suleiman Kerimov during a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council

Suleyman Kerimov

THE Tories have faced calls to return money from one of their biggest donors after it emerged her husband was funded by Suleyman Kerimov, who was sanctioned by the US in 2018 over his relationship with Vladimir Putin.

Lubov Chernukhin donated more than £1.5million in 2016 shortly after her husband Vladimir received £6.1million from Mr Kerimov. She denied her donations were ‘tainted by Kremlin or any other influence’. Mr Kerimov, 55, said he had ‘no dealings with her whatsoever’.

In 2019 French authorities opened an investigation into Mr Kerimov for complicity in tax evasion over the acquisition of villas on Cap d’Antibes, which he denies owning. His lawyer called the accusations ‘unlawful and unjustified’.

Alfa Bank Chairman of the Board Petr Aven (L) and businessman Roman Abramovich at a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin with Russian business community representatives, at the Moscow Kremlin

Alfa Bank Chairman of the Board Petr Aven (L) and businessman Roman Abramovich at a meeting of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin with Russian business community representatives, at the Moscow Kremlin

Oleg Deripaska

Known for hosting Blairite spin doctor Lord Mandelson on his yacht in Corfu, he is said to be worth £3.2billion.

He was named in the Commons as one of Putin’s ‘most loyal oligarchs’ by MP Bob Seely. He has been sanctioned by the US since 2018 over alleged links to the Russian government, including allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling. He called the claims ‘a lie’. He was president of Russian energy company En+ Group, listed in London.

He said: ‘The idea that I am some kind of ‘Kremlin operative’… is clearly idiotic nonsense.’

Mikhail Fridman

The London-based billionaire put under EU sanctions last week runs Russia’s largest commercial bank Alfa Bank.

The EU called him ‘a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle’ with ‘strong ties’ to him. It said Ukraine-born Mr Fridman ‘engaged in the Kremlin’s efforts to lift the western sanctions issued to counter Russian aggressive policy against Ukraine’.

He was ranked the UK’s 11th wealthiest man in The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, with £10.9billion. His parents live in Lviv, western Ukraine.

Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the Board of Directors at Renova Group of Companies, president of the Skolkovo Foundation, during a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society

Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the Board of Directors at Renova Group of Companies, president of the Skolkovo Foundation, during a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society

Petr Aven

Mr Aven heads Alfa Bank alongside Mr Fridman. Until this month, he was a Royal Academy trustee. He owns Ingliston House, a mansion in Virginia Water, Surrey, that has a large art collection. Both men issued a statement in response to EU sanctions, saying ‘war can never be the answer’. They said the restrictions were ‘groundless and unfair’ and vowed to ‘fight this injustice with every sinew’.

Viktor Vekselberg

Mr Vekselberg, 64, has invested in western cultural institutions, including London’s Tate Foundation, of which he is an honorary member. The museum is under pressure to cut links with the founder of Russian energy conglomerate Renova Group. He was sanctioned by the US in 2018 under penalties on oligarchs who ‘profit’ from connections to the Russian state.

He helped negotiate the merger of Russian oil firm TNK with BP in 2003. In 2013 he made about £1billion from its sale to Russian oil company Rosneft.

He has used English courts and law firms in cases involving his British Virgin Islands and Cyprus registered entities.

A Tate spokesman said: ‘Mr Vekselberg is not a current Tate donor and there is no ongoing connection. His membership title is honorary in recognition of a donation made seven years ago.’

Additional reporting: Simon Lock, Matthew Chapman, Soobin Kim and Franz Wild

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.