Who are Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov, the $19bn oligarchs hit by UK sanctions?

The measures take the number of oligarchs penalised by the UK to date to 15

The UK assets of Alisher Usmanov, left, and Igor Shuvalov have been frozen in the latest tranche of British government sanctions. Getty Images/AFP
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The UK has imposed sanctions on two more oligarchs as it seeks to ratchet up pressure on Vladimir Putin in the face of his escalating attacks on Ukraine.

The assets of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and former Russian deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, worth a combined $19bn, have been frozen, and neither are allowed to travel to the UK.

In addition, British citizens and businesses are prohibited from working with them.

The sanctions take the number of oligarchs penalised by the UK to date to 15, although the speed, comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the measures has been widely questioned.

Regardless of the effect they have on Mr Putin and the course of the war, both Mr Usmanov — whose $600m superyacht was seized in Germany on Thursday — and Mr Shuvalov will be feeling aggrieved. So who are these oligarchs and why have they been targeted?

Who is Alisher Usmanov?

Alisher Usmanov is a telecoms and mining magnate with a fortune estimated to be in the region of $14.1 billion.

He founded Megafon telecoms company and metals investment group USM Holding, in which he has a 49 per cent stake. Its largest holding is in iron ore and steel giant Metalloinvest.

Mr Usmanov's business partner and USM chairman is the Everton owner Farhad Moshri, where USM had a deal in place with the Premier League side to sponsor its training ground, and an option in place to name the club's new stadium, slated to open in 2024.

This deal was suspended on Wednesday with the club saying it was “shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine".

Mr Moshri has also stepped down from the USM board and expunged his ties with Mr Usmanov.

Everton wasn't Mr Usmanov's first dalliance in football.

He owned a 30 per cent stake in Arsenal which he relinquished in 2018 after years of fighting for overall control of the club with its current owner, the American billionaire Stan Kroenke.

Before moving into mining, Mr Usmanov made his fortune producing plastic bags which were in scarce supply in the former Soviet Union.

He also helmed Gazprom Investholding, a subsidiary of the Russian state gas firm Gazprom, between 2000 and 2014.

While his investing credentials don't exactly make him a congruent fit with the big tech ethos of Silicon Valley, Mr Usmanov was an early investor in Facebook.

He claims he has donated over $2.6 billion to charity.

Who is Igor Shuvalov?

Igor Shuvalov is a former Russian deputy prime minister who, until the UK sanctioned him, owned an £11.4 million ($15.3m) luxury flat in the heart of London.

The ex-lawyer's wealth is reportedly in the region of $200m.

A fluent English speaker, he was perceived as one of the most senior liberal figures in the Putin regime until he stood down in 2018 to head VEB, a Russian state investment company which funded successful bids for the 2018 football World Cup and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Mr Shuvalov had denied owning luxury London properties — which he amalgamated into one flat — but this claim was disputed by Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny.

They were bought in 2014 by a group Mr Navalny linked to Mr Shuvalov, with the £11.4 million price more than a 100 times greater than the official £112,000 salary Mr Shuvalov declared to the government.

Mr Navalny also alleges Mr Shuvalov clandestinely used a £38m private jet to fly his wife’s Corgi dogs around Europe for competitions.

Mr Shuvalov is seemingly predisposed to the opulent. He is believed to rent a castle in Austria and also to have rented a beachfront property in Dubai.


Updated: March 04, 2022, 3:01 PM