Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov confirms that he no longer owns many assets in the United Kingdom that the government intends to freeze as part of the sanctions imposed on him, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Those assets, including two properties – a £82m London home by the BBC and a property in nearby Surrey – and a yacht, have been converted into irrevocable trusts. These are funds that cannot be dissolved once created or even usually changed in terms of their terms.

As a Usmanov spokesperson reported, these assets were transferred to the trusts as early as 2006. “All of Mr. Usmanov’s property was placed in irrevocable trusts long before the sanctions were imposed. This had nothing to do with the sanctions and was due to asset planning.” He explained that after the assets were transferred, Usmanov no longer owned them. “He also could not manage or sell it, and could only use it on a rental basis,” the spokesperson said.

He provided these explanations in response to questions about Usmanov’s origins as part of an international journalistic investigation into the origins of 35 oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. BBC Panorama is one of the participants in the Russian investigation Asset Tracker.

As the BBC points out, if Usmanov was not the legal owner of much of his assets, he could be outside the scope of British sanctions. The same may be true of other oligarchs. The sanctions imposed by the British government on Usmanov on March 3 include freezing his assets in the UK, banning him from entering the country, and banning any transactions with him by British entities and citizens.

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The 68-year-old Alisher Usmanov was born in Uzbekistan and owns USM Holdings, a huge mining and telecommunications conglomerate including Russia’s second largest mobile network, Megaphone. His fortune is estimated at 14 billion pounds sterling. Last year he was ranked sixth on the list of the richest people in Great Britain by the Sunday Times.

From London Bartłomiej Niedziński (PAP)

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