Before the latest round of UK sanctions were announced, Roman Abramovich put his £150 million house in Kensington Palace Gardens in London for sale (Picture: EPA/Splash/Getty Images/Reuters)
Multi-million pound UK properties belonging to Russian oligarchs could be used to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has revealed he is pushing for mansions owned by the mega-rich allies of Vladimir Putin to be seized for ‘humanitarian and other purposes’.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, he said: ‘I want to explore an option which would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals, as long as they are sanctioned, for humanitarian and other purposes.
‘There’s quite a high legal bar to cross and we’re not talking about permanent confiscation.
‘But we are saying: “you’re sanctioned, you’re supporting Putin, this home is here, you have no right to use or profit from it – and more than that, while you are not using or profiting from it, if we can use it in order to help others, let’s do that”.’
One target is Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, who was hit with an asset freeze and a travel ban in an updated sanctions list published on Thursday. It came after ministers were put under sustained pressure to target him.
Igor Shuvalov, the former Russian deputy prime minister, owns an £11.44 million luxury flat in London’s Whitehall (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
The Sloane Court property owned by Andrey Kostin, president and chairman of VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest bank (Picture: Getty)
Roman Abramovich’s mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens (Picture: EPA)
Just before the UK sanctions were announced, he put the football club up for sale for £3 billion, alongside his £150 million house in Kensington Palace Gardens in London.
The list also includes billionaires Igor Sechin and Oleg Deripaska, both seen as Putin’s allies.
The capital has long been a hub for Russian money, so much that it has often been referred to as ‘Londongrad’.
Mr Gove, who first raised the prospect of seizing oligarchs’ homes in Cabinet two weeks ago, has been met with opposition from some of Boris Johnson’s top team.
Last night, a backer of Mr Gove’s plan told the Daily Mail: ‘The opposition is being led by oligarch apologists who hide behind the rule of law.’
Vladimir Putin and Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska (Picture: AP)
The new Homes for Refugees government scheme is offering £350 a month to Brits willing to take in Ukrainians escaping the war.
The plan follows heavy criticism of the Home Office for failing to remove bureaucratic visa requirements for refugees, leaving many stranded.
Mr Gove has announced that local authority areas will be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee.
‘Additional payments’ will be available to support school-age children who need to be accommodated within the education system, he said.
The minister said he expects the first refugees making use of the government’s new sponsorship route to come to the UK ‘in a week’s time’.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said: ‘People can register their interest on Monday.
‘Matching will be taking place from Friday. I would expect that in a week’s time we’ll see the first people coming here under the scheme.’
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