Manchester City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, is facing calls for an investigation by the UK government over allegations that he may have aided affluent Russians in transferring their assets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This claim has been made by lawyers acting on behalf of an unidentified Ukrainian activist.
“Sheikh Mansour, being a prominent figure and owner of a renowned UK football club, should be reasonably scrutinised by the UK government,” a letter addressed to the UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, stated, as cited by multiple sources this past Friday.
The correspondence further highlights a purported “abundance of evidence” that connects Sheikh Mansour to the facilitation of wealthy Russians establishing their assets in the UAE. This evidence, the letter suggests, provides grounds for the UK government to initiate an inquiry. This recent communication with Cleverly is a follow-up to a previous request made by the same legal representatives in September of the previous year. The Ukrainian activist, who initiated this letter, has chosen to remain anonymous due to concerns over potential retaliation.
The document also urges UK legislators to evaluate whether Mansour should be categorised as a “designated person”. If deemed so, he would fall under financial sanctions as per the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.
Should the government’s investigation determine that Mansour is liable to these sanctions, it would render him ineligible to retain ownership of Manchester City. This is in line with the revised ownership regulations of the English Premier League released in March. The basis for these potential sanctions would be if Mansour was found to have engaged in activities that compromise the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine.
The letter also points out the trend of numerous Russian business magnates relocating their wealth to the UAE, with cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi emerging as preferred destinations.
In reaction to these allegations, a representative from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) commented:
“We remain steadfast in our stance against aiding Russian oligarchs in concealing their assets through intricate financial structures. In April, we rolled out a sanctions package targeting such facilitators.”
The FCDO, as reported by The Guardian, is cognizant of Russian endeavours to bypass these sanctions. The publication further highlighted the FCDO’s intensified efforts in nations such as the UAE, Türkiye, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia, and Serbia to thwart Russian attempts at procuring sanctioned materials for arms production.
Recently, the UK government disclosed that over 1,800 individuals have been sanctioned under its guidelines. Approximately 1,600 of these sanctions were imposed post the commencement of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine the previous year. Notably, among those sanctioned was the ex-owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, leading to his eventual sale of the football club.
Sheikh Mansour became the owner of Manchester City in 2008. Under his leadership, the team has clinched seven Premier League championships, six League Cups, three FA Cups, and a UEFA Champions League title. Interestingly, since acquiring the club, Mansour has been present at only two matches.