UK bans Abramovich from spending £2.3bn of Chelsea money beyond Ukraine
The UK authorities have prohibited releasing GBP 2.3 billion pounds (USD 2.9 billion) that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had received from the sale of Chelsea beyond Ukraine, Mike Penrose, chairman of the foundation that will distribute funds, wrote for The Times newspaper.
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"When Chelsea was sold, the proceeds were gifted to our proposed foundation so they could benefit ‘all victims of the Ukraine war and its consequences’, terms which were subsequently written into the documents of sale approved by the government.
"A year later, the foundation is being told by the government that, because of an agreement with the EU, the gift will only be released if we agree to limit spending to within the geographic borders of Ukraine," Mr Penrose claimed.
According to him, the foundation therefore cannot consider any request that would allocate money to either Ukrainians outside of Ukraine, or families hosting them in other countries including in places like the UK.
Last week, the Daily Mail reported that Mr Abramovich would not sign an agreement to distribute the Chelsea funds to Ukraine because he wanted part of the money earmarked for "Russians who suffered from the war".
Mr Penrose insists the wording "all victims of the Ukraine war and its consequences" was asked for by him after "consultation with other humanitarian experts".
"As the recent unrest in Russia has helped to illustrate, we need to prepare for every scenario, including an increase in refugee outflow because of an increase in fighting.
"And in that scenario, aid from the foundation would have to, under the government’s and EU’s conditions, stop the moment the refugees left Ukraine. Indeed, many victims receiving humanitarian assistance, mostly women and children, follow that trajectory."
He further added Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has affected "a vast number of people in other countries," from "neighbouring Moldova to Somalia".
Separately, the chairman of the foundation assured "we could not allocate funds to Russia or Belarus, or institutions linked to their governments or sanctioned individuals, as that would breach sanctions law."
Last year, Mr Abramovich sold the Chelsea football club for USD 2.9 billion to a consortium of investors led by American billionaire Todd Bailey, with the proceeds intended for a charity foundation to support humanitarian projects for Ukraine.