How did Roman Abramovich get rich? Chelsea owner’s links to Vladimir Putin amid UK Government sanctions

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a range of sanctions on Russian oligarchs, including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has had his assets in the UK frozen as the government roll out fresh sanctions against known associates of Vladimir Putin in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich had announced recently that he was hoping to sell the club, but at this stage, any sale will only be allowed subject to special dispensation from the government, and on the condition that the billionaire profits from it in no way.

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Similarly, while Chelsea will still be able to operate and compete under a special licence, they will no longer be allowed to sell additional tickets to any upcoming matches, meaning that only season ticket holders will be permitted to attend games for the foreseeable future.

What do the restrictions mean for Abramovich’s hopes of selling Chelsea?

Despite Thursday’s sanctions, Chelsea could still be sold.

Ultimately, however, Abramovich would have to receive no proceeds from the sale, and it would require governmental approval for it go through.

The likelihood is that any potential deal will be put on hold for the time being, and any future negotiations are almost certain to require a long and complicated process.

Despite the the sizeable hurdles that need to be passed over, however, The Times report that there are potential buyers who would still be keen on striking a deal for the Blues.

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How much is Roman Abramovich worth?

According to the Forbes ‘Real-time’ tracker, Abramovich is worth $14.6bn (£10.7bn).  This places him as the 131st richest billionaire in the world.

How long has Roman Abramovich owned Chelsea FC?

Little was known of Abramovich when he bought Chelsea in a deal worth around £140 million in the summer of 2003.  At the time, his other business interests included being a major shareholder in Russian oil company Sibneft and he had also owned a significant share in Aeroflot.

Speaking almost two decades ago, Abramovich said: “We are delighted to agree this deal to acquire what is already one of the top clubs in Europe. We have the resources and ambition to achieve even more given the huge potential of this great club.”

How much has he put into Chelsea FC?

A report released last month suggested the club is now around £1.5 billion in debt to Abramovich as he has continued to bankroll their push for success in the Premier League and Champions League.

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How did he make his vast fortune?

Surprisingly, given his current wealth, Abramovich’s story has relatively humble beginnings. His first forays in the world of business saw him selling imported rubber ducks and retreaded tyres.

A wedding gift of around 2000 roubles following his first marriage was reinvested and he ventured into the manufacturing of plastic toys and other businesses thereafter.

Abramovich was able to make his first billions through a deal to buy oil company Sibneft after the purchase was aided through a controversial loans-for-shares program and the privatisation of the company.

After buying Sibneft for around £100million, Abramovich made around £1.8billion when he first sold a number of shares in the company.

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What is his relationship with Vladimir Putin?

Abramovich’s relationship with Putin were established prior to the latter’s ascension to the role of President.

In 2012, a high court judge stated that the Chelsea owner had “privileged access” to the leader, as well as “very good relations”.

This is not the first time that Abramovich’s association with Putin and his role at Stamford Bridge have caused controversy, however.

Claims that Abramovich bought Chelsea on the orders of Putin led to the former receiving an apology from publisher Harper Collins after they were initially outlined in a book entitled “Putin’s People”.

The claims have since been removed.

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What has been said about the sanctions facing Abramovich?

In a brief statement shared to his official Twitter account, the Prime Minister addressed the decision to sanction Abramovich, as well as compatriots Oleg Deripaska, Igor Sechin, Andrey Kostin, Alexei Miller, Nikolai Tokarev, and Dmitri Lebedev.

Mr Johnson said: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s invasion.

“Today’s sanctions are the latest step in our ruthless pursuit of those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of Ukraine.”

The Prime Minister was asked to correct a point.The Prime Minister was asked to correct a point.
The Prime Minister was asked to correct a point. | PA

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.

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“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.”

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