The BBC Uncover new signs of corruption in the work of Roman Abramovich. Documents handed over by an anonymous source to the “Panorama” program revealed that the owner of Chelsea FC won billions in auctions that were biased in his favour.
According to the British channel, the data that has now been revealed was copied from the files kept by Russian agencies on Abramovich. The BBC was unable to confirm the origin of the document, but it has verified the information published with a number of other sources.
Fraudulent oil auction cost the Russian government more than $2.4 billion
According to the investigation, Abramovich made a fortune by buying Sibneft (currently Russia’s third largest oil company, now Gazprom Neft) at an auction that was rigged in his favour. The oligarch bought the company from the Russian state in 1995, for 230 million euros, “returned” it to the same owner in 2005, for about 12 billion.
Irregularities in this work were already known. In 2012, Abramovich was sued in London by former partner Boris Berezovsky. Despite winning the dispute, he admitted in court that the auction was fraudulent and that he gave his partner more than 9 million euros to pay a Kremlin official.
The document obtained by the BBC now reveals that the Russian government was infected with 2.46 billion euros in this deal and that the authorities wanted to charge it with fraud. The figure was confirmed by an investigation by the Russian parliament in 1997.
The BBC spoke with the former prosecutor in charge of the case. Yuri Skuratov emphasized: “Basically, it was a fraudulent scheme, in which those who participated in the privatization formed a criminal group that allowed Abramovich and Berezovsky to deceive the government and not pay the money that the company really deserved.”
The document also notes that the oligarchy was protected by the former president of Russia. Boris Yeltsin will have stopped the investigation and transferred the files to the Kremlin. The public prosecutor responsible for the case has been dismissed.
Abramovich’s Chinese bidders have been kidnapped at an auction
In 2000, with Putin in power, Roman Abramovich remained in the president’s inner circle. In 2002, he again participated in a second fraudulent auction, according to the BBC.
It was the subject of the acquisition of Slavneft. According to the document, Abramovich partnered with another company to buy, but a Chinese competitor planned to make a double bid. If this happens, many influential people associated with the Kremlin and the Russian parliament will lose money.
“The Chinese company CNPC, a very strong competitor, was forced to withdraw from the auction after one of its representatives was kidnapped upon arrival at Moscow airport and was only released after the company announced its withdrawal,” the document said. After the withdrawal, Abramovich’s partnership proposal was the only one left on the table.
Independent sources confirmed the kidnapping, but there is no indication that the Russian oligarch was aware of what happened.
The Chelsea owner’s lawyers have rejected allegations of corruption against the BBC, saying there is no evidence that the Russian oligarch has amassed a large fortune through criminal activities. As for the kidnapping, they say the accusation is “completely baseless” and that their client “is not aware of such an incident.”
Abramovich was spotted at the airport in Israel
Roman Abramovich was one of the members of the Russian oligarch who was sanctioned by the British government last week for being close to Vladimir Putin.
The billionaire’s assets have been frozen and removed from the Chelsea presidency. The football club was subject to additional penalties, with Wednesday’s Champions League match against Lille at stake, with the team only able to spend £20,000 (around €24,000) on travel.
This Monday, the Watchman It reported that Roman Abramovich was filmed in the VIP area of Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. According to information provided by Radarbox, an oligarch-related plane with LX-RAY identification took off for Istanbul, but it was not possible to confirm whether the owner of Chelsea was on board.
A source told Reuters that the plane flew from Moscow to Tel Aviv late on Sunday. The restrictions that Israel has imposed on private planes since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine do not allow these planes to remain on Israeli territory for more than 24 hours.
Abramovich, who holds dual Portuguese and Israeli citizenship, denied having close ties with the Russian president. In the past, the oligarch said that he lived on his own plane, constantly traveling between Moscow, London and New York. Your plane will have left British soil at the end of February. The private yacht, valued at around 550 million euros, entered Montenegro’s territorial waters on Sunday.
Since the sanctions were implemented, Russian oligarchs have abandoned major European capitals. While some have returned to Russia, others have moved to cities outside the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, where national authorities impose sanctions.