Labour MP has suggested that the government seize the assets of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, citing worries over potential corruption links.
Chris Bryant told MPs that he had a leaked Home Office paper indicating that the owner of Chelsea Football Club should not be able to establish himself in the UK.
Mr Bryant stated that it was written in 2019 and that “little” progress had been made since then.
Mr. Abramovich’s spokeswoman declined to respond.
In response to Mr. Bryant, senior minister Mark Spencer stated that the government had taken “quite serious action against high-profile Russian individuals who are causing concern.”
Downing Street refused to comment on Mr Abramovich’s allegations in the Commons. “I couldn’t comment on individuals or leaked documents of that nature,” the PM’s spokesman stated.
As part of the UK’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the government stated earlier this week that it would impose penalties on three billionaires with strong ties to President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Abramovich is one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and is said to be close to President Putin.
Mr Bryant asked the government to take action against Roman Abramovich in the House of Commons, including revoking his ownership of Chelsea Football Club and confiscating his assets.
Quoting from the leaked Home Office document, he said: “‘As part of HMG’s [Her Majesty’s Government] Russia strategy aimed at targeting illicit finance and malign activity, Abramovich remains of interest to HMG due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices. An example of this is Abramovich admitting in court proceedings that he paid for political influence. Therefore HMG is focused on ensuring individuals linked to illicit finance and malign activity are unable to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal, including immigration powers to prevent this’.”
Mr Bryant highlighted that the document was created three years ago and stated, “Surely Mr Abramovich should not be permitted to own a football team in this nation any longer?”
“Surely we might consider confiscating some of his assets, including his £152 million home?”
Mr. Abramovich is the major owner of the private investment firm Millhouse LLC, in addition to Chelsea.
Following the demise of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, he made his fortune in oil.
Mr. Abramovich faced obstacles while requesting to extend his visa to stay in the UK in 2018, and he eventually withdrew his application.
The businessman’s representative acknowledged in October 2021 that he traveled to London as an Israeli citizen, allowing him to enter the country without a visa.
Tier 1 investor visas, which provide foreign investors with fast-track residency in the UK, are being phased out with immediate effect, announced Home Secretary Priti Patel last week.