Their transfer to a new fund to help Ukraine is delayed due to coordination with the UK government, said the organization’s director general.
The Ukraine Relief Fund, which is to receive £2.34bn ($2.9bn) from the sale of Chelsea Football Club by billionaire Roman Abramovich, is not yet operational due to delays by the UK government, the fund’s CEO told Bloomberg. Mike Penrose.
“We are ready to go, we are just waiting for approval. There are complexities and delays based on political alignment both between the UK and the EU and within the UK,” Penrose said. According to him, the fund’s team, for its part, has completed the preparation of all the necessary documents, including a list of candidates for the fund’s board of directors, consisting of seven members. Penrose did not name specific names, he only revealed the candidate for the post of chairman of the council – Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland. Penrose also drew up a list of investment managers who would oversee the finances. The new fund does not intend to make any decisions until it is sure that the money will come, Penrose said. “We don’t want to be left with a fund but no money,” he added.
The European Union has provided all parties with its legal clarifications on the application of its sanctions against Russia, no additional work is expected from the EU, an informed source told Bloomberg. The British Foreign Office declined to comment to the agency.
Abramovich sold Chelsea to a consortium of investors led by American Todd Boyley in May 2022. He promised to donate all the proceeds to a charitable foundation, but for almost a year the money has been frozen in a British bank account. In 2022, the UK government allowed £200,000 in legal and administrative costs to be used to set up the fund. The practical aspects of the donation have proven to be very difficult, and there are still several hurdles to overcome before the fund will receive the money, and it is not clear when this will happen, a second Bloomberg source said. The UK government should consider the fund’s application for the risks of circumventing sanctions. This process takes a significant amount of time, says Bloomberg’s source.
In January, The Telegraph wrote that the UK government is finalizing all approvals and will wait for approval from the EU. Abramovich’s press office told Forbes that the billionaire is not involved in the distribution of money from the sale of Chelsea: the money was never transferred to the businessman’s account, it is managed by the British government. The new fund will help not only Ukraine, but all those affected by the “military special operation” * of Russia in Ukraine: Russians, Ukrainians, residents of the DPR and LPR, Abramovich’s representative reported Forbes in March 2022. The fund will focus on humanitarian projects supporting medical, educational and housing programs for Ukrainians, Penrose told Bloomberg.