Home Business UK government tells Russian tycoons they aren’t getting their impounded yachts and private jets back

UK government tells Russian tycoons they aren’t getting their impounded yachts and private jets back

UK government tells Russian tycoons they aren’t getting their impounded yachts and private jets back


A billionaire ally of Roman Abramovich and a Russian owner of a brand new superyacht lost their appeals challenging the UK’s sanctions regime, bolstering the government’s pursuit of Russian assets.

Eugene Shvidler, who’s been described as Abramovich’s “right hand man,” lost his attempt to lift the asset freeze, in the first Court of Appeal decision on the strict measures imposed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He argued he’s faced “serious hardships” after he saw his private jets impounded by the UK, and pushed back at suggestions he was a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Separately, Sergei Naumenko, a wealthy Russian property developer who isn’t sanctioned, lost his appeal over the detention of his superyacht in London’s Canary Wharf.

The rulings were handed down Tuesday against the backdrop of wider government discussions over the confiscation of around $300 billion of frozen assets held by the Russian central bank. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for Western nations to be more aggressive in seizing frozen Russian assets and passing the proceeds on to Ukraine to finance its defense.

“I would accept that these sanctions are both severe and open-ended,” Judge Rabinder Singh said in the ruling. “If sanctions are to be effective, a serious price has to be paid.”

In the UK, the government has so far won every court challenge made by sanctions targets. 

“I suspect there will be a few sighs of relief in Whitehall,” said David Savage, a lawyer at HFW. “The UK has cast a very wide net of sanctions and asset seizures, and the position of the courts has been that the importance of ending the turmoil in Ukraine outweighs any infringement of individual right.”

Shvidler had sought to argue that the-then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pressured the Foreign Office to place restrictions on him. He’d said that the government rushed the sanctions out against him as Shapps’ officials worried that they would have to release his aircraft from a private airfield without the formal restrictions. 

The billionaire, who now lives in the US, plans to appeal the judges’ finding to the Supreme Court, according to his lawyers.

“The Court of Appeal has clearly given considerable deference to the government in matters of foreign policy. If it stands, it will make it virtually impossible for any person sanctioned by the UK Government to bring a successful legal challenge,” they said.

Meanwhile Shapps also faced criticism from the judge over his comments when the superyacht Phi was detained. He’d incorrectly accused Naumenko of being “connected with Putin,” a statement that “ought not to have been said,” the judge wrote.

“Today’s ruling, once again validates our decision to detain the Phi superyacht,” a spokesperson for the transport department said. “We’ll continue to act where necessary to crack down on those benefiting from Putin’s regime and their illegal war in Ukraine.”

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