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War in Ukraine. Roman Abramovich allegedly transferred his estate to his children just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine

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In early February 2022, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roman Abramovich transferred assets worth several billion dollars to his seven children, the British newspaper The Guardian reported. In this way, the Russian businessman was supposed to avoid freezing assets.

The Guardian revealed that 10 secret trusts set up in Cyprus and Jersey, the beneficiary of which was himself Roman Abramovich, were reorganized in such a way that their beneficiaries became his children, the youngest of whom is 9 years old. These 10 trusts have assets of at least $4 billion, although the real amount could be much higher.

Roman Abramowicz was supposed to transfer the estate to the children

The hasty reorganization of the trusts began on February 4, 2022, four days after United States and the UK threatened to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs in case Russia invaded, which ended on February 24, the day the war began. A trust is a legal form in which property is held by a trustee, who is formally the owner, in the interest and for the benefit of the beneficiary of the trust.

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As a result of the reorganization of the trusts, Abramovich’s children on the day of the Russian attack became their main beneficiaries, jointly holding 51% in some of them and 100% in others. shares. Trust assets range from stakes in large Russian companies to more conspicuous physical assets such as luxury real estate, private jets and a fleet of superyachts led by the Eclipse, which has nine decks and two helipads.

Great Britain imposed sanctions on seven oligarchs, including Abramovich, on March 10, European Union – March 15, while the US did not impose sanctions on him at all – according to reports, at the request of Ukraine, when it turned out that he had revealed himself as an unofficial broker in peace talks – wrote the British daily. As recalled, Abramovich has Russian, Portuguese and Israeli citizenship.

Unlike family members of some of my closest advisers Vladimir Putinwho were also sanctioned, this was not done for the families of many oligarchs, which means that by reorganizing trusts, Abramovich could have avoided asset freezes.

Roman Abramovich Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Possible attempt to avoid asset freeze

Sanctions experts said the extensive reorganization of trusts may have been a deliberate – though not unlawful – attempt to formally transfer assets to avoid freezing them.

This will complicate efforts to enforce sanctions against oligarchs, especially since Abramovich’s assets have been protected for many years by a network of non-transparent offshore trusts, and potentially thwart asset freeze attempts. It also raises questions about whether Abramovich’s children should also be subject to an asset freeze.

Information about the reorganization of trusts made just before the war comes from documents hacked from the Cypriot company MeritServus, which has been servicing Abramovich’s financial interests for over 20 years, which were then passed on to the “Guardian”.

Main photo source: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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