The UK government has sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, freezing his assets, including English Premier League soccer club Chelsea.
In a statement Thursday, the UK government said Abramovich has had "his assets frozen, a prohibition on transactions with UK individuals and businesses, a travel ban and transport sanctions imposed."
Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, announced last week that he was selling the club, but the sanctions now cast doubt on the sale and the immediate future of the Premier League side.
"To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club," UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a tweet.
She added that the government's priority is to "hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account."
According to the UK government, Chelsea can continue to "fulfil its fixtures and carry out football business," but certain actions will not be permitted, such as selling tickets for games beyond those already sold to fans.
Abramovich and Putin ally Igor Sechin are among seven oligarchs and politicians to be added to the UK's sanctions list.
The sanctions are estimated to be worth close to $20 billion (£15 billion), the UK government said.
Last month, UK lawmaker Chris Bryant called for Abramovich to lose ownership of Chelsea after seeing a leaked 2019 UK government document identifying Abramovich as an individual of interest due to his "links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices."
In its statement, the UK government said Abramovich, who is worth around $12 billion (more than £9 billion), is "one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin."
Seven further oligarchs and politicians are being added to its sanctions list, including:
- Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC and has stakes in steel giant Evraz and Norilsk Nickel
- Oleg Deripaska, who has stakes in En+ Group
- Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft
- Andrey Kostin, chairman of VTB bank
- Alexei Miller, CEO of energy company Gazprom
- Nikolai Tokarev, president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft
- Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya