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Exclusive-Abramovich handed Chelsea director control of firm on day of Ukraine invasion – filings

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Russian businessman Roman Abramovich transferred a company he controlled with tens of millions of dollars of investments to a director of English soccer club Chelsea on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, UK corporate filings showed.

It was the second time Chelsea owner Abramovich moved assets to a close associate before Britain and the European Union imposed sanctions on him this month.

After Britain was initially slower than the United States and the European Union in imposing sanctions following the Feb. 24 invasion, British lawmakers complained that the government was giving oligarchs time to move their assets out of the country before any curbs were announced.

Abramovich did not respond to requests for comment left with Chelsea and his spokesperson. A British government spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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Abramovich, 55, became one of Russia’s most powerful entrepreneurs mostly from oil and aluminium during the chaotic aftermath of the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. Forbes last month put his net worth at more than $13 billion.

Britain and the EU imposed sanctions such as asset freezes on Abramovich and hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, targeting people accused of propping up Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich has denied having close to links to Putin.

A Reuters analysis of corporate filings in London and Amsterdam showed Abramovich was previously listed as the “beneficial owner” of Cyprus-based Ervington Investments Limited. The company has made investments in at least eight firms, including in Russia’s top search engine Yandex, the filings showed.

On Feb. 24, Eugene Tenenbaum, a director of Chelsea who is described on the club website as one of Abramovich’s “closest associates”, took full control of Ervington, according to a filing with the London Stock Exchange. Neither Britain, the EU nor the United States has placed sanctions on Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum said in a statement to Reuters that his company purchased Ervington Investments from a trust in which Abramovich and his children were previously the beneficiaries. He said the purchase from the trust, called Norma Investments, was in compliance with laws and regulations. Tenenbaum declined to say how much he paid for the stake.

“Ervington is a company that I have worked with for many years,” he said. “I know the company’s investments and employees well, and buying Ervington provides me with an opportunity to continue to work with this business, under my control and for my, and the employees’ benefit.”

ASSET MOVEMENTS

London-based lawyers said the move meant that the assets held by Ervington would not be subject to the freeze imposed on Abramovich’s other assets.

Abramovich has handed control of two companies to business associates since the war began, according to corporate filings.

Also on the first day of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special operation, Abramovich moved Norma Investments to another associate, David Davidovich, UK corporate filings showed. The Norma transfer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and has been confirmed in the filings.

Reuters was unable to reach Davidovich immediately for comment.

Britain imposed sanctions on Abramovich on March 10, saying he had profited from transactions with the Russian government and special tax breaks.

The British government said Evraz, a steel company in which Abramovich is the largest shareholder, could contribute to the war against Ukraine and supply steel for Russian tanks. Evraz has denied this, saying it only supplies steel to the infrastructure and construction sectors.

Evraz has not been sanctioned by the British government. Its London-listed shares were suspended by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority after Abramovich was sanctioned. Tenenbaum was among 10 of Evraz’s board members who quit on March 11 because of the Abramovich sanctions, the company said.

Abramovich put reigning European champions Chelsea up for sale on March 2, but following the sanctions announcement, the club was made to operate under a special licence and is now effectively controlled by the British government.

Several potential buyers of Chelsea have confirmed their interest and the deadline for the first round of bids is Friday.

RELATIONSHIP ENDED

Tenenbaum, 57, was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union and has been on Chelsea’s board for 19 years. He was previously the head of corporate finance at Sibneft, an oil company sold in 2006 by Abramovich.

Tenenbaum said in his statement that he does not agree with the way Abramovich has been publicly characterised. The British government said when it sanctioned Abramovich that he had been a close ally of Putin for decades.

“It is my hope that the unjust measures imposed on Mr Abramovich will be reassessed,” he said. “Unfortunately, as a British citizen and due to the new regulations, I am unable to continue to work with him personally.”

Ervington has served as an investment vehicle for Abramovich for at least eight years. It was among investors who put $600 million into Yandex in 2020 and who put money into Via, a ride-sharing app.

Tenenbaum moved to Canada at a young age and previously worked for accounting firm KPMG in Toronto, Moscow and London, according to the Chelsea website.

 

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Paul Sandle; Editing by Leela de Kretser and Grant McCool)

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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By the numbers for British Columbia’s overdose crisis

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British Columbia’s chief coroner released overdose figures for 2022, showing 2,272 residents died from toxic drugs last year. Lisa Lapointe says drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.

Here are some of the numbers connected to the overdose crisis:

189: Average number of deaths per month last year.

6.2: Average deaths per day.

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At least 11,171: Deaths attributed to drug toxicity since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

70: Percentage of the dead between 30 and 59 years old.

79: Percentage of those who died who were male.

65: Children and youth who have died in the last two years.

82: Percentage of the deaths where the toxic opioid fentanyl was involved.

73,000: People in B.C. who have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

8.8: The rate that First Nations women are dying, is a multiple of the general population’s rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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