Police in Jersey have been ordered to apologise to Roman Abramovich after admitting conducting unlawful searches at premises linked to the Russian billionaire.
The former Chelsea FC owner was sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and a court directed that £6bn of his assets were frozen.
Warrants were granted to search properties linked with the oligarch in April and various documents and devices were seized by the Economic Crime and Confiscation Unit (ECCU), a law enforcement body in Jersey.
But Abramovich challenged the legality of the searches and Jersey police yesterday acknowledged that ‘the search warrants were obtained unlawfully’ and agreed ‘that the search warrants should be quashed.’
It was said that the force failed to reach the sufficient level of evidence to warrant a search of any premises.
The police also agreed to pay damages and costs, confirmed that all copies of documents seized in the searches had been destroyed and that the police would apologise to Abramovich, according to legal documents.
Abramovich challenged the legality of the searches and Jersey police yesterday acknowledged that ‘the search warrants were obtained unlawfully’
Abramovich’s spokesman said: ‘Mr Abramovich has always acted in accordance with the law, we are pleased that the Jersey Police have conceded in relation to these unlawful and unfounded searches.’
The powerful businessman, who also hold Israeli citizenship, earned his fortune during the break-up of the Soviet Union through the oil company Sibneft, Rusal aluminium producer and the airline Aeroflot.
Under Vladimir Putin, Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia’s Far East.
He has been involved in attempts to find a negotiated settlement to the war, thus far without any success.
Abramovich sold Chelsea FC, which he had owned since 2003, to a group led by American Todd Boehly in May this year for a reported £4.25bn.
Jersey police’s concession to Abramovich came as the British Government said Thursday it had frozen assets worth more than £18billion pounds held by Russian oligarchs, other individuals and businesses sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has overtaken Libya and Iran to become Britain’s most-sanctioned nation, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), part of the finance ministry, said in its annual report.
The frozen Russian assets were £6billion more than the amount reported across all other British sanctions regimes.
Under Vladimir Putin (pictured), Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia’s Far East
The assets are a combination of shareholdings in companies and cash held in bank accounts. It does not include physical assets such as real estate or assets held in Crown Dependencies such as Guernsey and Jersey.
The government has sanctioned 95% of Russian exports to Britain and all imports of Russian oil and gas will stop by the end of 2022.
‘We have imposed the most severe sanctions ever on Russia and it is crippling their war machine,’ said Andrew Griffith, a junior government minister in the Treasury in a statement.
‘Our message is clear: we will not allow Putin to succeed in this brutal war.’
Britain has so far sanctioned more than 1,200 individuals including high-profile businessmen and prominent politicians and more than 120 entities in Russia.