Is Former Chelsea FC Owner Roman Abramovich on the run?

Roman Abramovich

Abramovich was pictured at a VIP lounge in Tel Aviv airport shortly before his private jet took off for Istanbul after Israel said it was not a haven for sanctioned Russians.

A photograph obtained by Reuters on Monday afternoon showed Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, sitting in the lounge with a face mask pulled down over his chin.

He was pictured for the first time since he was subjected to sanctions as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The picture was taken shortly before a jet linked to him took off for Istanbul, but it was not immediately clear whether he boarded the flight.

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It comes as the BBC claims an investigation by its Panorama team has uncovered new evidence about corrupt deals behind Abramovich’s fortune.

In a programme aired last evening, Panorama spoke with a former Russian chief prosecutor who told them he was preparing a criminal case for the confiscation of oil company Sibneft after an investigation revealed a fraudulent scheme behind its privatisation.

Mr Abramovich paid around $250m (£190m) for the oil company before selling it back to the Russian government for $13billion in 2005.

His lawyers told the BBC there is no basis for alleging he has amassed very substantial wealth through criminality.

But a document obtained by the BBC says that the Russian government was cheated out of $2.7 billion in the Sibneft deal – a claim supported by a 1997 Russian parliamentary investigation which looked at bringing charges of fraud by an organised crime group against Abramovich.

Today, the EU imposed further sanctions on Abramovich, who was last week sanctioned by the UK government for his connections with Vladimir Putin.

His appearance in Tel Aviv comes as Israel grapples with how to deal with the dozens of Jewish Russian oligarchs while Western nations step up sanctions on business people with ties to Putin.

About the Author

Moses Okitae
Moses Okitae Writes about Science stories, food security and human interest stories.

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