In contrast, appeals against EU sanctions are recorded publicly. Reports say that multiple sanctioned Russians have employed legal teams to fight against the imposition of international sanctions.
They include Usmanov, who filed an appeal last year to remove EU sanctions, which prevent him from accessing assets in member states or travelling across the continent. His bid has so far not been successful.
But his sister, Saodat Narzieva, managed to get her EU sanctions overturned in September. At the time, a spokesperson said they “expect that the information we provided will be taken into account by the UK regulatory authorities in the decision to lift UK sanctions against Ms Narzieva.” Saodat remains sanctioned in the UK.
In June, openDemocracy also uncovered how Usmanov managed to sell his stake in a London mansion less than a fortnight before he was added to the UK sanctions list. Usmanov’s stake was transferred legally to his Russian business empire, meaning he could potentially still profit from his British interests.
Last week, we also revealed that the UK government allowed another Putin ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, to override sanctions against him in order to launch a legal attack on a British journalist.
A British legal firm called Discreet Law obtained special licences from a department within the Treasury, allowing it to receive payments from Prigozhin. This meant he could sue Eliot Higgins, the founder of investigative journalism website Bellingcat, which had published stories about Prigozhin.
Emails seen by openDemocracy show that Prigozhin believed a legal victory against Higgins would discredit the allegations made against him, strengthening his bid to remove his sanctions.
Treasury officials signed off on a series of costs from Discreet Law relating to the case, including business class flights for Prigozhin’s lawyers to St Petersburg, so they could meet face-to-face and finalise their legal attack on Higgins.
The Labour Party described the move as “completely unacceptable” and called for the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to investigate following openDemocracy’s revelations.
*This article was updated to reflect that Alisher Usmanov was a sponsor of Everton Football Club, rather than an investor.
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