Xavier Rolet has bowed to pressure and resigned as chairman of PhosAgro, a company facing sanctions over its ties to the Russian government.
The EU yesterday added PhosAgro’s chief executive, Andrey Guryev, to the sanctions list revealing that the fertiliser producer is “largely connected” with the Russian government and provides it with an important source of revenue.
The move forced Rolet to u-turn on his defiance of calls to step down as chairman of the company’s board of directors, a position he has held since 2019 which earned him over ₽27,000,000 (£175,000) in 2020.
“In light of the announcement regarding the new EU list of Russian citizens, I have tendered my resignation,” Rolet told City A.M..
“In this senselessly tragic time, I can only hope that those with the power to restore peace and liberty will find the courage and will to do so. I continue to pray for a new global governance which can achieve peace and security for mankind,” he added.
Rolet attacks sanctions
Rolet has faced mounting pressure to resign from the firm since the London Stock Exchange suspended the trading of shares in 27 Russian-linked companies, including PhosAgro.
The former Stock Exchange chief has hitherto resisted calls to step down from the company, doubling down on his position earlier this week in a LinkedIn post which challenged the efficacy of imposing sanctions on businesses.
“As I’ve said elsewhere, the logic of using the weight of sanctions, boycotts and public pressure to punish LSE-listed companies for failures of policy and negotiation frankly eludes me,” Rolet wrote on Tuesday.
He added that global business “certainly has a better track record at communicating, negotiating and managing governance on a global scale than the political class.”
Links to Russia
The French businessman has a long history of ties to Russian politicians, having supported cooperation between Russian and European businesses since his time as the chief of London Stock Exchange, a role he held between 2009 and 2017.
The former Lehman Brothers hire was awarded an Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2017 by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. That same year, he was pictured meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin while speaking at a Moscow forum organised by VTB Capital, a banking group which has also seen its shares suspended from the London Stock Exchange following the invasion of Ukraine.
Throughout the pandemic Rolet has proved a vocal supporter of the Russian vaccination programme, reassuring his Twitter followers about the safety of the Sputnik Vaccine which he claimed to have taken himself and retweeting criticism of Russia’s coverage by European media.
A wide array of businesses have cut ties with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
Goldman Sachs has today become the first large US bank to pull out of the country. While oil giants BP and Shell have also confirmed plans to ditch Russia, with BP selling a near 20 per cent stake in Kremlin-backed energy giant Rosneft.