Russian-Israeli oligarch Roman Abramovich announced on Wednesday that he is selling the Chelsea Football Club and will be donating the sale proceeds to victims of the war in Ukraine.
Amid fears of sanctions in wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich had already relinquished control of the team last week, handing it over to its charitable foundation trustees.
Abramovich wrote in a statement: “The sale of the Club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process. I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club. Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
The loans he is forgoing are reportedly about $2 billion. Abramovich, who has a fortune of $14 billion, has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Jewish causes.
A number of Russian oligarchs have already been sanctioned by Western countries and Abramovich, who is known for his close ties to Putin, is likely to be sanctioned as well.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and amid US threats of sanctions against Russia, several representatives of Israeli institutions wrote a letter to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides requesting that the US exclude Russian-Israeli oligarch Roman Abramovich from sanctions, noting his generous contributions to Israel and the Jewish people and the negative impact sanctions would have on the Jewish state.
Following the letter, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned government ministers not to assist Russian-Jewish oligarchs who have been sanctioned or could be sanctioned in the future.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)