Putin's sanctioned cronies including tycoon and KGB agent
10th March 2022

Putin’s sanctioned cronies: Billionaire oil tycoon, Kremlin banker and KGB agent among the Russian oligarchs targeted in £15bn sanction hit

  • Seven Russian figures including Roman Abramovich hit with sanctions today
  • Others hit by sanctions today include billionaire oil tycoon Oleg Deripaska 
  • Boris Johnson vowed ‘no safe haven for those who support Vladimir Putin’ 

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and six others today were hit with crippling sanctions from the UK government over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Mr Abramovich’s one-time business partner, Oleg Deripaska, was also targeted, alongside Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’. 

They include Andrey Kostin, chairman of the second largest bank in Russia, Alexei Miller, chief executive of of energy company Gazprom, Nikolai Tokarev, president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft and Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of Bank Rossiya.  

The announcement of sanctions against Abramovich immediately threw Chelsea football club into crisis as it was banned from selling match tickets or signing new players and ordered to close its stadium shop.

The sale of the club was also put on hold as Abramovich’s UK assets were frozen and he was hit with a travel ban, alongside his fellow oligarchs.  

Shortly after the news, Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

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.

‘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.’

The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.

Deripaska (left) is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been accused of aiding the Kremlin in foreign influence operations

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin poses next to Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller after awarding him with the title of ‘Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation’

Vladimir Putin meets Andrey Kostin. Kostin has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and previously described sanctions against Russia as ‘economic war’

The seven oligarchs sanctioned by the UK today

Roman Abramovich: Worth up to £9.4 billion

Russian money has long bankrolled some of English football’s biggest clubs, and Roman Abramovich is seen as the original billionaire football owner.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whose money turned the club into a football powerhouse

Mr Abramovich was named last year by detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as someone who should be targeted by Western governments in a bid to curb human-rights abuses by the Russian state.

Mr Abramovich has never held UK citizenship and made his money selling assets purchased from the state when the Soviet Union broke up.

When he arrived at Chelsea in 2003 and transformed the team from outside challengers to a Premier League giant with the help of Jose Mourinho.

As well as owning the west London football club, he has reportedly built up a £200million property portfolio in London.

This includes a three-storey penthouse overlooking the River Thames for £22million and £90million for a 15-bedroom mansion next to Kensington Palace. This is now worth at least £125million.

The bulk of Abramovich’s UK wealth is to be found in Evraz, a steel and mining giant listed on the London stock market. 

The empire also includes a £22million three-storey penthouse at the Chelsea Waterfront (pictured) which was completed after his visa expired and was made in his name 

Believed to be worth anything between £8.4billion and £14.3billion, according to Forbes and the Sunday Times, Abramovich also owns stakes in steel company Evraz and Norilsk Nickel – a Russian mining company.

A political figure in his homeland, he was governor of the Chukotka region and donated more than $2million to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

The Russian billionaire, 54, reportedly boasts a British property empire that includes a 15-bedroom mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens (pictured) that is believed to be now worth £125 million

The empire also includes a £22million three-storey penthouse at the Chelsea Waterfront (pictured) which was completed after his visa expired and was made in his name

Abramovich has a 162.5m yacht (pictured in September 2020), named ‘Eclipse’

The Russian-Israeli businessman is known to have close relationships with former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin and at one time, current president Vladimir Putin. 

Branded a pro-Kremlin oligarch, Abramovich was targeted with an asset freeze and a travel ban on Thursday after ministers came under sustained pressure to target him over Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The updated sanctions list, which hits seven new elite individuals, said Abramovich has had a ‘close relationship for decades’ with Mr Putin, which the football club owner has previously denied.

Jets and yachts owned or chartered by Abramovich can been seized, the sanctions say.

The Russian oligarch, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin, has been prohibited from transactions with UK individuals and businesses – meaning his plan to sell the West London club looks impossible.

Chelsea’s status as a ‘significant cultural asset’ means it has been granted a special licence to continue playing, but Abramovich will be deprived of any profits.

The club has been banned from selling home and away tickets, with only fans who have already bought tickets – including 28,000 season ticket holders – still allowed to attend games.

Ministers will discuss ways of allowing away fans and supporters attending Champions League ties to attend without funneling cash to the club.

The licence prohibits Chelsea from spending more than £20,000 on any away game travel, raising serious logistical questions for its Champions League game in Lille next Wednesday. The side play Newcastle at home on Sunday.

The government describes Abramovich as ‘a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’ who is ‘associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine’ – Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Indeed the men are described as having had ‘a close relationship for decades’, an association which has resulted in ‘financial or other material benefit’ from the Russian regime, the Government said.

It said this included tax breaks received by companies linked to Mr Abramovich, and ‘preferential treatment and concessions’ from the Kremlin.

It highlighted Evraz as being involved in providing financial services, or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technology ‘that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine’.

Oleg Deripaska: Worth up to £2 billion 

Once Russia’s richest man, oil tycoon Mr Deripaska came to prominence in the UK when he entertained Labour grandee Lord Mandelson on his yacht in Corfu. 

The tycoon – who is close to Mr Putin – quit as a director of Russian energy giant EN+ Group after being targeted by the sanctions. He owns a house in Belgrave Square and is a grandson by marriage to the late leader Boris Yeltsin.

Last year he tore into the FBI and ‘utter stupidity’ of the American government in a lengthy statement on Wednesday, a day after homes linked to him in New York and Washington were raided by the agency.

Oleg Deripaska (pictured), who was once Russia’s richest man, owns a house in Belgrave Square and is a grandson by marriage to the late leader Boris Yeltsin

A spokesman for Deripaska said the searches stemmed from sanctions imposed on him in 2018 and that the homes belonged to his relatives. But on Deripaska indicated both pieces of luxury real estate were ‘abandoned.’

Deripaska’s was born in Siberia in 1968 but raised by his grandparents in Krasnodar, after his mother left home to find work. He was drafted into the Red Army before graduating Moscow State University in 1993 with a degree in nuclear physics, just as Soviet Russia was collapsing.

His estimated peak fortune sat at £28 billion and he boasted several multi-million properties and private jets, as well as the yacht where he entertained Peter Mandelson and George Osbourne. At his peak, he 

Deripaska has acknowledged his business depends on goodwill in the Kremlin. However, in 2018, he was targeted with sanctions that crippled his wealth, over ‘malign’ Russian activity.

The US banned businesses and banks from having any dealings with Deripaska, and attempted to seize some of his assets.

American officials cited a string of his alleged criminal activities, including ‘threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering’, as well as links to organised crime.

The private luxury yacht of Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, pictured in Turkey

Deripaska has a home in Belgrave Square and is also rumoured to have a home at nearby Eaton Square

They also claimed Putin forced him to launder money by investing $800m in a sports complex for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Now, Deripaska’s fortune sits at $2.9bn, just a tenth of its peak and could collapse further following sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Deripaska is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin who’s been accused of helping the Kremlin conduct foreign influence operations.

A 1,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report released in 2020 also links him to former Trump 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort and ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele.

Deripaska and other members of Putin’s inner circle as well as 12 Russian businesses connected to them were blacklisted by the Treasury Department in 2018 over alleged international crimes. 

However, Donald Trump lifted sanctions on three companies connected to him despite objections from Congressional Democrats.

According to the government, Deripaska still has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers. He also has a multi-million pound property portfolio in the UK. 

Igor Sechin: Wealth unclear, estimated to be around £100million

Nicknamed Darth Vader and widely seen as Putin’s right-hand man, Sechin is the Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. 

He has been a close confidante of Putin since the early 1990s. From 1991 to 1996, he worked at Saint Petersburg mayor’s office, becoming chief of staff to Putin in 1994.

He went on to serve as Putin’s deputy chief of staff when he became President in 2000.  

Widely seen as Putin’s right-hand man, Igor Sechin is the Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company

French authorities seized the £86million yacht linked to Igor Sechin, a Putin ally who runs the Russian oil giant Rosneft, in the Mediterranean resore of La Ciota

A yacht owned by Igor Sechin, boss of Russian state energy company Rosneft, was grabbed by French customs officers near Marseille. It is frequently used by his second wife Olga Rozhkova

He was appointed chairman of Rosneft by Putin in 2004 before serving as Deputy Prime Minister of Russia in Putin’s cabinet from 2008 to 2012.

Sechin is seen as one of Putin’s most conservative allies and commands the loyalties of the FSB, spreading its influence in Russia’s energy sector.     

In 2008, Hugo Chávez said that the idea for Venezuelan nuclear energy program came from Sechin, who went on to negotiate deals on weapons and nuclear technology deliveries to Venezuela.    

A 2014 article said Sechin is ‘widely believed to be Russia’s second-most powerful person’, claims that have been repeated since. 

He has been married twice, with his second wife Olga Rozhkova seen frequently using his superyacht, which was seized in France as part of sanctions against Sechin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Officials in France seized the £86million superyacht linked to Sechin in the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat close to Marseille last week. 

The US government first sanctioned Sechin in March 2014, freezing his assets and banning him from travelling there. 

The EU blacklisted Sechin and froze his assets at the end of February.   

Andrey Kostin: Worth £375million 

Andrey Kostin is president and chairman of VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest bank, which is controlled by the state.

Kostin has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and previously described sanctions against Russia as ‘economic war’. He is widely seen as a close associate of Putin.  

In 2018 it emerged the Chelsea Flower show was reportedly struggling to find backers meaning a Russian bank set up by oligarch Mr Kostin, who is currently subject to US sanctions, had been allowed to sponsor a garden.

Kostin is president and chairman of Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB, which is controlled by the state

On December 2, 2019, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released an investigation about Kostin’s relationship with journalist Naila Asker-Zade on YouTube

Kostin’s yacht. Kostin has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and previously described sanctions against Russia as ‘economic war’

It was claimed in 2020 that Kostin tried to cover up claims Vladimir Putin had secretly moved to Sochi during the pandemic, with president going so far as to have a replica office built to convince Russians he’s still in Moscow, anti-Kremlin media reported. 

The Kremlin said a photographed meeting between Putin and VTB Bank head Andrei Kostin on October 29 2020 happened at Novo-Ogaryovo – Putin’s state residence outside Moscow – but critics claimed that the encounter actually took place in Sochi. 

On December 2, 2019, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released an investigation about Kostin’s relationship with journalist Naila Asker-Zade on YouTube.

He accused Kostin of giving gifts to Asker-Zade, including the use of a business jet, yacht, house and two apartments. 

Kostin, according to Navalny, used money belonging to the bank, 60.9% of which is state-owned, to buy real estate for Asker-Zade.  

Kostin said in a statement: ‘I unequivocally state that I have never used public resources of VTB Bank for any personal purposes. All such claims made by others are completely unfounded and false.’ 

Alexei Miller – Net worth unknown 

Alexei Miller is CEO of energy company Gazprom, making him one of the most important executives supporting the Russian government, according to the UK government. 

Miller served under Putin in the 1990s when Putin was deputy mayor in St Petersburg. 

From 1996 to 1999, he was Director for Development and Investments of the Port of Saint Petersburg. From 1999 to 2000, he served as Director General of the Baltic Pipeline System. 

Alexei Miller is CEO of energy company Gazprom and an influential executive in Russia

He continued to climb the ranks and in 2000 was appointed Deputy Minister of Energy for Russia. Then, in 2001, he was given a leading role at Gazprom. 

Since 2002, he has also been deputy chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors. 

It is said that Putin secured Miller’s appointment as CEO so that he could put an end to fears that some of Gazprom’s executives had ‘harmful third-party relationships’.  

In April 2018, the United States sanctioned Miller along with 23 other Russian nationals. The sanction bars US individuals and entities from having any dealings with him.

Nikolai Tokarev – Net worth unknown

A close associate of Putin, Tokarev is the president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft.

From 1978, Tokarev studied at the Moscow Higher School of the KGB for two years.

He then served as a KGB officer in Dresden in East Germany in the 1980s. 

A close associate of Putin, Tokarev is the president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft

It was here that he first met Putin, who joined two years after Tokarev. Tokarev took the future Russian president under his wing and the two struck up a close friendship. 

Between 1996 and 1999 Tokarev worked for the state Presidential Property Management Department, spending time working under Putin. 

Dmitri Lebedev – Net worth unknown 

Lebedev is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya. The UK sanctioned Bank Rossiya, widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank, on February 22 2022. 

Lebedev was sanctioned by the US in 2016.

From 1990 to 1993, he worked at the Central Administration of the Central Bank of Russia in St. Petersburg, at the same time as Putin worked in the government. 

Dmitri Lebedev is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya. The UK sanctioned Bank Rossiya, widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank, on February 22 2022

From 1993 to 1995 he was both a director of the Bank Rossiya and first deputy chairman of the board of the CAB ‘Viking’.  

From April 2006, to June 2012, he was the CEO and chairman of the board of Bank Rossiya. 

In June 2012, Evgeny Logovinsky took over Lebedev’s post as CEO, and, since June 2012, Lebedev has been the chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya.

Bank Rossiya is considered by the US to be ‘the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation’ including Mr Putin’s inner circle.

It has supported the integration of Crimea into Russia, and ‘offers support to military activities and the formation of major transport links and cards that allow the public to travel easily around the peninsula’, the UK Government previously said.

Lebedev is also high up in asset management company ABR Management, and insurance heavyweight Sogaz – both of which are Bank Rossiya affiliates.  

Lebedev’s involvement in the financial sector is deemed to be of strategic significance to the Russian Government.

It cites Bank Rossiya’s opening of branches across Crimea since it was annexed following Russia’s invasion in 2014 as key to their decision to add him to the sanctions list.

It also highlighted Sogaz’s role in insuring the construction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait between the Russian mainland and the Crimean peninsula, thus supporting the internationally condemned annexation.

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