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Sanctions: Abramovich Denies Asking For Loans From Celebrity Friends

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Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has denied going cap in hand to wealthy US friends for financial help as the impact of state sanctions starts to bite.

His spokesman made the statement after reports emerged in the US claiming that Putin’s former confidante was begging rich contacts including Hollywood director Brett Ratner for £765,000 ($980,000) loans to help him pay his staff after being sanctioned by London and Washington.

The Chelsea Football Club owner, who has been accused in Britain of being a close ally of Putin, had reportedly asked for huge loans from his celebrity friends to maintain his staff, who were said to be costing him £600,000 a week.

Abramovich’s spokesperson denied there was any truth to the report, which was first broken by media outlet Page Six, and insisted they had not been approached for comment.

The spokesperson told radio station City AM that Abramovich had ‘not spoken with, nor asked for funds from these individuals’.

‘We have contacted the originating source Page Six as they did not reach out to us prior to publication,’ they added.

Page Six alleged that Rush Hour director Ratner was among those Abramovich asked, along with members of the Rothschild family as well as other contacts in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The oligarch was said to have made approaches after his assets in Britain and the US were seized last month. No one is thought to have agreed to give him the money.

A source told the website: ‘Roman is asking some of his closest powerful friends to let him borrow $1million. He is saying he has never missed payroll for his staff, which is $750,000 a week, and with his assets frozen, he can’t pay his people.

‘He has reached out to Hollywood producer and director Brett Ratner and the Rothschild family, among many others, for money, but – while they are good friends with Roman – they have not agreed to give him money, because either they do not have that in liquid cash, or moreover, it is not clear what are the repercussions under international law.’

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Ratner declined to comment when approached by Page Six, and the Rothschilds could not be reached.

Abramovich now cannot sell any of his UK assets including Chelsea without a special licence that can only be granted by ministers and the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, OFSI. Any cash he holds in the UK are now frozen in accounts if he has not been able to transfer funds abroad, while his shares on the London Stock Exchange cannot be sold and will pay no dividends.

But despite these serious allegations, the law doesn’t allow ministers to take away Chelsea, properties, yachts, planes, shares, and cash.

Currently, the Government has powers to freeze UK assets like houses, but it cannot seize them and put them to a different use.

The rules in place prevent oligarchs from renting out or selling property they own, hiring someone to clean it or even paying a power company to connect it to the electricity supply or pay a bill.

The billionaire recently bought a £264million Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet. The 50-seater aircraft is the world’s most expensive private jet with a base cost of £188million and a rumoured £76million of additional equipment to the billionaire’s taste, Forbes reported, citing industry sources.

He also owns a fleet of supercars valued at more than £16million, believed to be in the UK. Among the high-end vehicles are a Porsche 911 GT1 Evo, a Ferrari FXX, a Aston Martin Vulcan, and a Maserati MC12 Corsa.

The fleet also includes a Pagani Zonda R, of which only 15 have ever been produced and come with a price tag of £2.5million.

Abramovich has seven children from two of his ex-wives. The eldest, Anna, 29, is a Columbia University philosophy graduate who lives in New York, while Arkadiy, 27, is an industrial tycoon with substantial oil and gas investments.

Sofia, 26, who lives in London and the ‘wild child’ of the family, recently posted a message on Instagram attacking Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. Less is known about Arina, 20, Ilya, 18, or Aaron, 11, and Leah Lou, 7, who were both born in New York to his third wife, Dasha.

It comes after the billionaire was allegedly poisoned with a World War One chemical agent at peace talks, and even felt so unwell that he reportedly asked the scientist examining him if he was dying.

The Chelsea owner was suffering severe symptoms after coming into contact with Chloropicrin or a low dosage of Novichok, experts have claimed. Investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who led research into the shocking incident, said a team of experts agreed the wartime chemical was the most likely one used in the attack.

Abramovich and other peace negotiators suffered debilitating symptoms including temporary blindness on a mission in early March to Kyiv seeking an end to the war. Abramovich required hospital treatment in Istanbul after flying to Turkey from the talks in Ukraine.

One theory for the alleged poisoning is that hardliners close to Putin wanted to disrupt peace moves and prolong the war.

In an interview, Grozov spoke in Russian to tell Popular Politics YouTube channel that all the experts had agreed the most likely source of their symptoms was Chloropicrin.

‘All the experts who communicated with them, studied their photographs, and carried out personal examinations,’ he said. The experts ‘all said this was not a coincidence, not food poisoning, not an allergy’.

He said: ‘They suggested this [Сhlorpicrin] and other war agents. They agreed on one of them and disagreed on the others. They also all agreed that the only way to detect the agent was to bring these people to a laboratory, or to send their blood sample to a laboratory with means to detect war agents.’

Novichok was used in the poisoning of GRU double agent Sergei Skripal at his home in Salisbury, England, which also hospitalised his daughter Yulia. The attack was seen as being by the GRU, Russian military intelligence.

Novichok was also deployed to poison Putin foe Alexei Navalny in Siberia, who needed lifesaving medical treatment in Germany before returning to Russia where he was jailed on what his allies claim are politically motivated charges.

It is understood the oligarch had been involved in talks about securing humanitarian corridors to allow Ukrainians to leave as well as bringing other countries to the negotiating table.

The WSJ reported it was believed the suspected attack was orchestrated by hardliners in Russia who wanted to sabotage the talks.

Source: Daily Mail

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