Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich has recently had to make a declaration of just how wealthy he actually is.
Russia’s fifth richest man has announced he will run for re-election as a member of parliament for Chukota, Russia, where he served as governor for eight years, beginning in 2000. Russia’s election laws require all candidates standing for election to declare their assets before they run for office. According to the declaration, Roman Abramovich is currently worth US$17.78 billion, owns sixteen homes, seven cars, six companies, has twenty-two bank accounts and, of course, he owns Chelsea Football Club.
The UK broadsheet, The Daily Telegraph, reports that the Russian billionaire owns seven of his properties in Britain, two in the United States, three in France and four in Russia. Two of his properties in London have a combined value of US$243 million. He also owns a property in the South of France which is currently worth an estimated US$48.5 million. This property was once used by King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who caused a constitutional crisis in the UK which lead to Edward abdicating the throne in December 1936. Forbes magazine also reported that the estimated value of the Chelsea Football Club currently stands at £402 million (US$ 650 million); Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140 million (US$226 million) in 2003. Currently, his 22 bank accounts contain a total of US$116 million and he has a further US$40 million invested in the stock market. Abramovich also admitted to owning seven cars including a BMW, a Mercedes, a Range Rover and a Volkswagen Golf; although, strangely, his declaration does not mention any of his private jets and yachts.
Despite the missing planes and boats, for Abramovich, the recent declaration shows a huge improvement from the one he made in 1999. Then, Abramovich claimed he had made just £254,865 (US$ 412,000), owned no property and his only car was a beaten up old Lada.
The declaration is likely to stir up some resentment in Russia, where the difference between rich and poor is huge and the average annual salary is only US$8,000.
It also coincides with a personal attack on Abramovich by the former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, who referred to Abramovich when he said; "They [the ruling classes] are rich and debauched. Their ideal is to be something close to Abramovich. I scorn this idea. I am ashamed of this rich debauchery. I am ashamed for us and the country."