Sanctioned Abramovich files lawsuit at EU general court

BRUSSELS (AP) — Roman Abramovich has filed a lawsuit at the EU’s general court against the European Union Council, which imposed sanctions on the former Chelsea owner as part of measures targeting Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s close allies.

The EU in March included the Russian oligarch on its list of individuals targeted with frozen assets and travel bans over their role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Officials from the Council and the EU’s court could not comment on the details of the legal case when contacted Tuesday.

Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea after being sanctioned by the British government for what it called his enabling of Putin’s “brutal and barbaric invasion” of Ukraine.

The sale of the Premier League club for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) — the highest price ever paid for a sports team — was completed Monday by a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly. It marked the end of the trophy-filled, 19-year tenure of Abramovich.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said Portuguese authorities confirmed that the sale of Chelsea by Abramovich — who holds a Portuguese passport — does not benefit him or an entity associated with him, and that the proceeds would only be released for humanitarian activities in Ukraine.

“This follows close engagement between the European Commission, Portugal and the United Kingdom aimed at ensuring that the sale is fully in line with the EU sanctions legislation,” the Commission said in a message to The Associated Press. “The effective implementation and enforcement of EU sanctions are a priority for the Commission.”

When it sanctioned Abramovich in March, the EU said he “has had privileged access to the (Russian) president, and has maintained very good relations with him. This connection with the Russian leader helped him to maintain his considerable wealth.”

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