Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, three weeks before the war, transferred the assets of trusts associated with him to his seven children - worth at least $ 4 billion, although the total cost could be much higher. This is reported by The Guardian, which was in possession of the relevant documents. Among other things, this is real estate, a fleet of superyachts, helicopters and private jets. The youngest of the new beneficiaries is 9 years old, the newspaper writes.
The files appear to have been obtained by hacking Cyprus-based offshore service provider MeritServus, which has managed Abramovich's financial interests for more than 20 years. Many documents were anonymously given to The Guardian. According to the documents, until February 2022, Abramovich was the sole beneficiary of at least 10 trusts in Cyprus and Jersey (British jurisdiction). But on February 4, almost in one fell swoop, amendments began to be made to the trusts, the beneficiaries of which were appointed seven children of Abramovich.
In particular, the superyacht Eclipse with nine decks and two helipads “departed” for the children. Long owned by Abramovich, the 163m vessel is ultimately owned by Europa Trust. Documents show that Abramovich was removed from the trust's beneficiaries and replaced by his children. At the end of 2021, the companies she controlled owned $2.6 billion in assets, according to the documents.
For example, after the reorganization, the right of the oligarch to distribute the assets of the A Corp trust was reduced to 49%, and his children were appointed as beneficiaries and were entitled to 51%. The same change has been applied to at least seven of the 10 trusts, including: Grano Trust, Zeus Trust, Zephros Trust, Proteus Trust and Perseus Trust. The children have also been designated beneficiaries of the Sara Trust, but their share of the rights to its assets is unclear. Abramovich's beneficial interest in Ermis Trust was reduced to 49%.
Under US law, if a sanctioned individual directly or indirectly owns 50% or more of a company's shares, their assets may be frozen. UK and EU rules are similar but allow for an asset freeze when a person owns less than 50% of a company if that person exercises direct or indirect control over it.
The Guardian notes that the reorganization of the trusts could complicate efforts to enforce sanctions against the oligarch and potentially derail attempts to freeze assets previously thought to be owned by the steel magnate. Abramovich, who has Russian, Israeli and Portuguese citizenship, is not included in the US sanctions list. Ukraine reportedly asked the White House not to impose sanctions on him after the businessman became an unofficial mediator in peace talks.
Sanctions against Abramovich were imposed by the UK and the EU in March 2022. Abramovich denies financial ties to the Kremlin and has filed a lawsuit to lift the EU sanctions imposed on him.