The United Kingdom has added Alisher Usmanov’s USM holding to its sanctions list, as announced on the UK government’s official website.
The commentary to the sanctions against USM says that the holding is owned or controlled by Usmanov, “involved in benefiting from the Russian government or supporting it,” and also does business in strategic sectors of the economy for the Russian authorities — mining and digital technology.
According to the document, two more companies linked to Alisher Usmanov — Curzon Square and Hanley — were blacklisted.
“We are closing the net on the Russian elite and those who try to help them hide their money for war,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. “There's no place to hide. We will keep cutting them off from assets they thought were successfully hidden,” he added.
The sanctions are also imposed on two Cypriot natives, Demetris Ioannides and Christodoulos Vassiliadis, who the document says support Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich. The British Foreign Office calls them “professional assistants” who helped create offshore structures and trusts.
The sanctions on USM, Curzon Square and Hanley ensure that “assets linked to Usmanov, including the £90 million Beechwood House mansion in London, will remain under sanctions,” the statement said. Curzon Square, the company that acted as the London office of the entrepreneur and the tenant of the mansion of the second class (one of the three classes of monuments, it includes buildings of particular importance among the interest) in Curzon Square, also “is subject to an asset freeze”.
USM told RBC that it considers the British sanctions against the holding and its shareholders unfair and unreasonable. “Alisher Usmanov has not been engaged in business activities for a long time, has a stake of less than 50% in the holding company and does not participate in its management. We intend to challenge these restrictions as unlawful,” the company said.
Family members of Russian businessmen Vladimir Yevtushenkov and Suleiman Kerimov also fell under sanctions. The sanctions list also mentions co-owners of USM Vladimir and Varvara Skoch (they are associated with billionaire Andrei Skoch, who was put under sanctions a year ago), son and daughter Yevtushenkov Felix (who owns 15.2% of AFK “System”) and Tatiana, Yevtushenkov’s wife Natalia, wife of Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvechuk Oksana Marchenko, Suleiman Kerimov’s daughter Gulnara.
The UK imposed sanctions against Alisher Usmanov on March 3, 2022. Prior to that, the businessman came under sanctions of the European Union (EU). Lawyers of the businessman intended to prove that the EU restrictive measures against him violate the German constitution, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In September 2022, the EU lifted restrictions on Saodat Narzieva, the sister of Alisher Usmanov. In November, the FT reported that the Uzbek authorities could ask the EU to lift the sanctions on the businessman and offered him legal support.
In January, it became known about Usmanov’s plans to step down from the management of the business. The businessman has repeatedly stated that he intends to focus on the development of Uzbekistan.
Alisher Usmanov (net worth $14.4 billion) is the founder and major shareholder of the USM holding (49%). USM owns Metalloinvest and Megafon.