Labour MP Chris Bryant has called on Boris Johnson’s government to seize assets from Roman Abramovich, as he revealed details from a leaked Home Office document showing concerns about alleged “links to the Russian state”.
The backbencher said the billionaire and Chelsea FC owner “should no longer be able to own a football club” in the UK, after telling MPs that he had got hold of a leaked Home Office memo from 2019.
Mr Bryant told the Commons the document said Mr Abramovich “remains of interest to the HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices”.
The Labour MP said the government document stated: “An example of this is Abramovich admitting in court proceedings that he paid for political influence.”
The document also said the government was “focused on ensuring individuals linked to illicit finance and malign activity are unable to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal including immigration powers to prevent this”, according to Mr Bryant.
The senior MP, chair of the standards select committee, told the Commons: “That’s nearly three years ago, and yet remarkably little has been done in relation. Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?”
Mr Bryant added: “Surely we should be looking at seizing some of his assets, including his £152m home, and making sure that other people who’ve had tier one visas like this are not engaged in malign activity in the UK.”
Commons Leader Mark Spencer replied: “He will know under the sanctions passed in the House this week there is the opportunity for the government to take very strong action against high-profile Russian individuals who are of concern.
The Conservative minister added: “He will be aware that the home secretary will be at this dispatch box next Monday for Home Office questions and I am sure he will be able to challenge her directly.”
Earlier this week, Mr Johnson admitted that he “misspoke” after he mistakenly told MPs that Mr Abramovich was “already facing sanctions”.
The prime minister added he would correct the parliamentary record after he mistakenly included the Chelsea FC owner as one of those hit by the government’s retaliatory measures against Russian interests.