Oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler loses bid to overturn UK sanctions


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Oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler on Friday lost a High Court challenge seeking to overturn sanctions imposed on him by the UK in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The billionaire businessman was first blacklisted in March 2022. He remains under sanctions on the grounds of his association with Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and his former non-executive directorship of Evraz, a UK-incorporated multinational steel manufacturing and mining company with operations in Russia.

Shvidler had brought judicial review proceedings to quash the designation, claiming the UK government’s decision to sanction him was unlawful. However, his case was dismissed by the High Court in London.

As the first substantive legal challenge to British sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion, the judgment was viewed by Whitehall officials as a landmark victory for the government.

Shvidler, who was born in the former Soviet Union before moving to the US as a stateless refugee in 1989, has dual British and US citizenship. At the time it placed him under sanctions, the UK government estimated his net wealth to be £1.2bn. 

Lawyers for the 59-year-old had argued that the impact of the sanctions on him and his family were “manifestly disproportionate” and that the UK had sought to use him as “a poster boy for Russian sanctions”.

At the time of his designation, Grant Shapps, then transport secretary, grounded two private jets owned by Shvidler. To do so, Shapps said he had introduced new legislation designed to “deprive oligarchs’ access to their luxury toys”.

After Shvidler was blacklisted, elite private school Marlborough College did not permit his daughter to return for the remainder of the academic year and Harrow School withdrew his son’s place, the court heard.

Government lawyers argued the decision to impose sanctions was neither disproportionate nor discriminatory and asked the court to dismiss the case.

In a judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Neil Garnham dismissed Shvidler’s challenge, ruling: “In my view, it cannot properly be said that the secretary of state [James Cleverly] has failed to strike a fair balance between the rights of Mr Shvidler and his family and the interests of the community.”

The businessman’s lawyers had also argued that while he had had a “long‐standing personal and business relationship” with former Chelsea Football Club owner Abramovich, who is also under UK sanctions, Shvidler had not received financial or material benefit from him.

However, Garnham found there were “reasonable grounds” for Cleverly to have suspected that Shvidler had received significant financial benefits from Abramovich, and said the bases of Shvidler’s designation were “well founded”.

Garnham concluded that the designation was “an area where the courts have to defer to the judgment of the secretary of state”, adding: “The relative benefits, disadvantages and effectiveness of different measures taken in pursuit of foreign policy objectives is not one on which the court can second-guess the Foreign Office.”

He said the government’s analysis was “not self-evidently irrational or outside the range of reasonable responses”.

The Foreign Office said it welcomed the judgment, adding: “These sanctions have been carefully chosen to impact Putin’s capacity to fund his war, cripple supply chains and technological advancement, and target those who prop up Putin and his regime.”

The UK has designated more than 1,600 people and entities since the start of the Ukraine war. Last month, Britain removed sanctions imposed on Russian-born magnate Oleg Tinkov, the most outspoken billionaire to criticise the invasion.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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