Billionaire Eugene Shvidler has lost a bid to challenge the UK’s sanction regime, the first to be scrutinized by a British judge since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Bloomberg) — Billionaire Eugene Shvidler has lost a bid to challenge the UK’s sanction regime, the first to be scrutinized by a British judge since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Shvidler, a close ally of Roman Abramovich, had challenged the sanctions imposed on him in March 2022 at London’s High Court arguing that he’d faced serious hardships in his financial and personal life and pushed back at suggestions he was a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Judge Neil Garnham ruled Friday that the measures against Shvidler were proportionate and dismissed the claim. He said the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office had reasonable grounds to suspect that Shvidler had gained significant financial benefits from Abramovich.
“To be effective sanctions need to send messages to the designated person, and others in a similar position, that the conduct in question is unacceptable,” Garnham said in the written ruling.
Read More: Abramovich Ally Tells Court He Last Saw Putin at a 2007 Funeral
The legal challenge comes as the UK, which has sanctioned more than 1,600 individuals, looks for ways to broaden the power and scope of the existing tools to go as far as allowing the government to seize assets. Shvidler is one of the few tycoons hit by sanctions to claim to never have held a Russian passport.
Shvidler is a UK‐US dual national and has never been a Russian citizen, according to the judgment.
“If this judgment stands, it will make it virtually impossible for any person sanctioned by the Foreign Secretary to bring a successful court challenge,” Michael O’Kane, a lawyer for Shvidler at law firm Peters & Peters, said. “He hopes to have a hearing before the Court of Appeal at the earliest opportunity.”
A spokesperson from the FCDO said it welcomed the judgment and “the message it sends about the strength of the UK sanctions regime.”
(Updates with a comment from the UK government in the final paragraph)
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