A legal submission by international criminal lawyers has been made to the UK Foreign Secretary against the owner of Manchester City football club, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nayhan. The 51-year-old, who is also the deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, is accused of helping Roman Abramovich and other high-profile Russians evade international sanctions that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Dubai has become a haven for wealthy Russian billionaires, according to the legal submission. Assets belonging to Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin have been flooded with wealth and assets and Al-Nayhan is described as being "central" to the flow of sanctioned Russian assets to the Middle Eastern State.
According to details of the submission reported by the Telegraph, the request for a Foreign Office investigation into Al-Nayhan's alleged role in facilitating sanction evasions has been made by barristers Rhys Davies and Ben Keith, on behalf of a Ukrainian activist. They were not named for security reasons.
The submission says that the UAE "is now widely perceived to be the destination of choice for sanctioned supporters of Putin". It quoted reports that Russians are "increasingly approaching Sheikh Mansour's office" for help moving wealth into the country.
It is thought that Al-Nayhan could face a Foreign Office investigation. If he was in the UK at any point when alleged sanction evasions were taking place, those actions might fall within UK jurisdiction. The submission asks James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, to investigate whether Al-Nayhan has committed any offences and whether he should be sanctioned himself.
The submission quotes one report stating that at least 38 businessmen or officials linked to Putin own dozens of properties in Dubai, collectively valued at more than $314 million.
With the UAE being a major strategic ally of the UK, it is unclear if the Tory government will launch an investigation and potentially harm the interest of British arms companies and firms that do business with the autocratic Gulf regime.