UK Government Urged to Investigate Manchester City Owner Sheikh Mansour’s Alleged Ties to Sanctioned Russians

The British government is facing calls to disclose the measures it has undertaken to probe allegations that Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City, played a role in aiding wealthy Russians sanctioned by the UK in relocating their assets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Lawyers representing an anonymous Ukrainian activist, out of fear of reprisals from Russia, have penned a letter to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly seeking clarification on whether investigations have been conducted to determine if Sheikh Mansour, also the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, should be designated as a ‘person of interest’ subject to financial sanctions under the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

The UK government recently announced that over 1,800 individuals have been sanctioned under these regulations, with more than 1,600 of them being sanctioned since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The letter, sent on Thursday and obtained by the PA news agency, requests an update on the investigation into Sheikh Mansour.

The lawyers, Rhys Davies of Temple Garden Chambers and Ben Keith from 5 St. Andrew’s Hill Chambers, had initially written to Cleverly in September of the previous year. The Foreign Secretary has the authority to designate an individual if there are reasonable grounds to suspect their involvement in destabilizing Ukraine.

Involvement, in this context, is defined as someone responsible for, engaged in, provided support for, or promoted any policy or action destabilizing Ukraine or undermining its territorial integrity.

Designating Sheikh Mansour would potentially disqualify him as an owner under the Premier League’s updated rules on its owners’ and directors’ test published in March. The letter emphasizes that no specific allegations are made against Sheikh Mansour but points to publicly available evidence linking him to the accommodation of wealthy Russians in the UAE.

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The new letter states, “For the avoidance of doubt, we make no allegations as to any particular conduct of Sheikh Mansour. Nevertheless, in light of the wealth of evidence in the public domain tending to link Sheikh Mansour with the accommodation of wealthy Russians in the UAE, we respectfully suggest that there is a prima facie basis for the UK government to conduct an investigation.”

As the UAE gears up to host the COP28 climate change conference from November 30 to December 12, the letter notes that Sheikh Mansour is likely to play a “visible role” in the event. The lawyers urge the UK government to take all necessary steps consistent with its statutory and international obligations. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Manchester City have all been contacted for comment.

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