623 New 'British' Firms Are Actually Controlled By Russians
More than 600 British companies set up last year are actually being controlled from Russia, Martin Williams reported for openDemocracy as Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
Photo Insert: Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea football club.
It raises fresh concerns that unaccountable British company structures are being used to prop up oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin. The news comes amid calls to restrict the flow of Russian money through the UK and bring sanctions against allies of the Russian president.
Since January 2021, at least 623 firms have been set up by Russian nationals based in Russia, according to analysis by openDemocracy and Companies House expert Graham Barrow.
They include a “web portals” company that was incorporated earlier on Feb. 24, which is majority-owned by a Russian citizen who also lives in Russia. On Feb. 23, a real estate business was set up by two Russian men who used a service address in London – but were in fact residents in Russia.
The analysis – which includes many legitimate companies – suggests that thousands of firms listed on the UK’s business register are controlled by Russian nationals who live in the country, with some linked to Putin’s allies.
Two British firms are controlled by Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who lists Russia as his country of residence on official documents. Russia’s richest man, Alexei Mordashov, also controls several British companies including his mining company, Nord Gold PLC.
Mordashov, who is thought to have the ear of Putin, supported the president last year by claiming that he “reflects pretty much what every average Russian has in mind.”
Another Russian billionaire who was named in Parliament this week as a “key enabler” for Putin has “significant control” over a British real estate firm that reportedly owns a four-storey townhouse in Mayfair.
Alisher Usmanov is a former shareholder of Arsenal football club and has a fortune of £8.9 billion. He has faced calls for sanctions to be brought against him.