Former of Arsenal FC shareholder Alisher Usmanov says most of his property has been “transferred into irrevocable trusts” in a bid to evade UK sanctions.
The Russian billionaire claims he has protected some of his most valuable properties and his £437m yacht after they were frozen earlier this month.
According to The Times, a spokesperson for the oligarch, thought to be Russia’s fifth richest man, said property had been “transferred into irrevocable trusts”, and that “from that point on, Mr Usmanov did not own them, nor was he able to manage them or deal with their sale, but could only use them on a rental basis”.
In a statement given to the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) by his spokesperson, among properties transferred to the trust, which Usmanov “withdrew from the beneficiaries of”, are his Beechwood House in Highgate, worth almost £50m and the 16th-century Sutton Place estate in Surrey, worth £35m.
He sold his 30 per cent stake in Arsenal in 2018 and owns the USM company which was Everton FC’s main sponsor up until recently, before the ties were suspended.
The BBC quoted lawyer Michael O’Kane, who said “it’s very common” for wealthy individuals “to structure both their commercial enterprises and their personal wealth in a way that gives them maximum tax efficiency.”
He added that for sanctions to apply to an individual, an asset “needs to be owned or controlled by a sanctioned person.”