The UK has designated more than 1,600 individuals and 220 entities in an unprecedented roll-out of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Today, for the very first time, the courts are being called on to review the UK government’s approach to targeting individuals under the Russia sanctions regime.
Who is bringing the challenge?
Eugene Markovich Shvidler is a dual British-American citizen who was designated by the UK on 24 March 2022. The Russian-born businessman was targeted with sanctions as an “involved person” in Russia’s invasion based on his “close business links” to Roman Abramovich. Shvidler, whose net worth is estimated as £1.2 billion, was formerly a non-executive director of Evraz, the former FTSE 100 steel giant which Abramovich part-owned. The UK considers Shvidler to have been “involved in obtaining a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia” through his role at Evraz, whose business in the extractives, construction and transport sectors are of strategic significance to Russia.
Shvidler will argue in court that the government made “significant errors” when assessing his involvement in Evraz and his relationship with Abramovich. The nub of Shvidler’s challenge is that he and his family have suffered “serious hardships” following his designation which are “entirely disproportionate” to what he describes as the “vague and non-specific public benefits” supposed to be achieved by sanctions. While the government has broad discretion to impose sanctions, Shvidler claims that the former directors of Evraz have been targeted in a discriminatory manner.
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