London law firm BCL Solicitors has been named as one of the law firms that sent letters to the Foreign Office, on behalf of Russian oligarchs seeking to challenge the government’s sanctions regime.
In a written response to Labour MP Margaret Hodge, Conservative minister James Cleverly said BCL Solicitors had sent letters to the Foreign Office, on behalf of sanctioned Russo-Uzbeki mining billionaire Alisher Usmanov, seeking to challenge the UK government’s sanctions. .
Cleverly also said the government had received letters from lawyers working on behalf of Russia’s state-controlled Sberbank over the Foreign Office’s plans to sanction Russia.
Cleverly’s comments come after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said letters had been sent to the Foreign Office threatening legal action over the government’s sanctions regime.
The comments also come after German authorities seized Usmanov’s $600m (£455m) yacht, after the oligarch was hit by US and EU sanctions.
Born in Uzbekistan in 1953, Alisher Usmanov built his fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union, through his majority stake in Russian mining and steel firm Metalloinvest in the 1990s.
Prior to becoming a billionaire, Usamanov served six years in prison, on an eight year sentence, for “theft of socialist property”.
After leaving prison in 1986, Usamov made money selling cigarettes and manufacturing plastic bags, during the latter years of the Soviet Union.
Today, Usamov holds stakes in social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, and owns Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Usmanov also managed the investment arm of Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom between 2000 and 2014.
On its website, London headquartered law firm BCL Solicitors says it offers “discreet, effective and expert advice to a diverse portfolio of clients including corporations, public bodies, public figures, senior executives and high net worth individuals.”
BCL has been approached for comment.