On 18 August 2023, the High Court of London issued a ruling rejecting the claims of former Sibneft CEO Evgeny Shvidler, who had requested to be removed from the sanctions list. Despite his UK and US citizenship, the court did not grant his request
Since the beginning of the “SVO”, the UK has imposed sanctions on more than 1.6 thousand Russian individuals and legal entities, as well as foreigners associated with them. Evgeny Shvidler was added to the sanctions list on 24 March 2022. He was included because of his business ties with Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, as well as his position at Evraz.
Shvidler's lawyers tried to argue to the UK authorities that he had not benefited financially from Abramovich and his association with Evraz did not indicate support for or benefit from the Russian government. However, this did not lead to the removal of restrictive measures against Shvidler.
The businessman then appealed to the High Court in London, not challenging the legality of his inclusion in the sanctions list, but trying to prove the disproportionality of these measures, their negative consequences, violations of his rights, and discrimination, including against his family (his children were excluded from private British schools).
The court disagreed with Shvidler, noting that British law allows sanctions to be imposed in the case of a connection to a person who is in turn connected to the Russian government. It was Roman Abramovich who appointed Shvidler to a senior position at Evraz, which may indicate that he benefited from his association with the Russian government. And the nature of the sanctions themselves does not threaten the life or liberty of the individual and his family.
Shvidler's representatives intend to appeal the court's decision at the first opportunity, but the prospects of such an appeal are rather uncertain. The court's decision was supported by the UK Foreign Office, separately noting its importance for the UK sanctions regime. Thus, this decision is also indicative for other persons wishing to lift the British sanctions.
It has become clear that the mere possession of a British passport does not mean protection from inclusion or exclusion from the sanctions lists. It is the confirmation of a sanctioned person's connection to Russian authorities and corporations that remains the key factor in deciding whether to impose sanctions.
In addition, the court found that the violation of human rights, including the right to respect for private property, was proportionate and permissible in order to safeguard the public law interests of the State and its sanctions policy. Such a decision is at the discretion of the UK Foreign Office.
Nadmitov, Ivanov and Partners Law Firm advises on sanctions, counter-sanctions and corporate law.
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