Russian oligarch and former owner of the Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich’s 10 offshore trusts, holding assets worth billions of dollars, were transferred shortly before he was hit with sanctions. According to a report by the Guardian on Friday (January 6), Abramovich’s seven children became the beneficiaries of these offshore trusts. 

They acquired the beneficial ownership of the trusts with assets worth at least $4 billion in early February last year, just three weeks before Russia announced its ”special military operation” in Ukraine. The Guardian report pointed out that the total value of the assets could be much higher than the aforementioned amount. 

Through these 10 trusts, they (Abramovich’s children) appear to be the ultimate beneficial owners of various trophy assets long linked to Abramovich, including private jets, helicopters, luxury properties and super yachts. 

Dubbed the “Oligarch Files” — the Guardian report, citing leaked documents, on Friday said that of Abramovich’s seven children, five are adults and the youngest child is nine years old. 

“The leaked documents raise questions about whether the changes to trusts were made in an attempt to shield the oligarch’s vast fortune from the threat of asset freezes,” the report added. 

Sanctions experts told the newspaper that the sweeping reorganization of Roman Abramovich’s trusts can complicate efforts to enforce sanctions against him and lead to more calls for his children to face asset freezes too.

In March last year, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) governments imposed sanctions on Abramovich for allegedly benefitting from close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The United States has not imposed any sanctions on Abramovich after Ukraine reportedly asked the White House not to do so after he emerged as an unofficial mediator in peace negotiations. However, the US Justice Department seized two of his aircraft last year by saying they were used in violation of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. 

The leaked documents, which appeared to have been obtained through a hack of MeritServus — a Cyprus offshore service provider that administers Abramovich’s trusts, showed how the Russian Oligarch used opaque trust structures to shelter his wealth in secretive offshore havens for decades, the report also said. 

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