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20 Jul 2023

Corker Binning secures the delisting of Oleg Tinkov from UK sanctions list

Corker Binning has secured the delisting of Russian businessman and founder of Tinkoff Bank, Oleg Tinkov, from the UK’s sanctions list.

The Corker Binning team, led by David Corker, secured Mr Tinkov’s delisting from the UK’s sanctions list, as announced by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) today.

Corker Binning lawyers Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh and Andrew Smith also worked on this case, together with Rachel Barnes KC and Ryan Dowding of Three Raymond Buildings.

David Corker, lead lawyer on the case, said: “

We welcome the FCDO’s revocation of the unlawful designation of our client, Mr Oleg Tinkov, from the UK’s sanctions list.

“Liz Truss, as the Foreign Secretary at the time, was wrong to add and maintain our client on the UK’s sanctions list. She did so using  the false claim that Mr Tinkov was ‘a prominent Russian businessman’ formerly involved in ‘a sector of strategic significance’ to the Russian Government. We are glad that the FCDO has finally acknowledged that mistake.”


“We have argued since February 2023 that our client had been wrongly, unfairly and irrationally targeted by those sanctions. His designation has seriously undermined his health, his ability to conduct business and his international reputation. This is a major victory for our client who can now enjoy his rights and liberties in the UK again.


“By sanctioning him, despite his very clear and strong stance against the Russian government and its illegal invasion of Ukraine, Liz Truss set a dangerous and counterproductive precedent. That designation sent a message to Russia’s business classes, who wish to publicly oppose Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, that they are not supported by the UK government, and could be unlawfully targeted by sanctions in the UK.”


Case background

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022, then-Foreign Secretary Liz Truss imposed financial and travel sanctions on a large number of individuals and institutions believed to support the invasion or provide support to Putin’s Russia.

Mr. Oleg Tinkov was designated as a sanctioned individual under that regime on 24th March 2022. His assets were subsequently frozen, and he was banned from travelling to Britain. The UK was the only nation to sanction him and maintain those sanctions, other than Australia which added him onto its sanctions list after the UK.

The Corker Binning team, led by David Corker, requested the revocation of that designation  on the grounds that his designation was “irrational and unlawful”.

The team argued that the UK government had failed to ascertain and assess Mr Tinkov’s true position vis-à-vis Putin’s Russia and its ggression towards Ukraine.

They argued that, in fact, Mr Tinkov has been denouncing the war in Ukraine on social media since 28 February 2022, and has described his country of birth as “fascist” and as having become a “dictatorship”. In May 2022, the Tinkov family donated €50,000 to support Ukrainian refugees.  Mr Tinkov subsequently renounced his Russian citizenship on 26 October 2022, in an act of protest against the Russian government and its war in Ukraine.

By examining Mr Tinkov’s business history, and gathering independent expert evidence about his true relationship to the Kremlin, the Corker Binning team argued that Mr Tinkov did not satisfy the statutory definition of an “involved person”, as he was no longer carrying on business in a sector of strategic significance in the Russian economy.

The Corker Binning team further argued that Mr Tinkov did not benefit from nor support the Russian government’s policy vis-à-vis Ukraine, as Tinkoff Bank had refused to open accounts with putative customers who declared that they resided in Crimea or the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian government forced Mr Tinkov into a sale of his 35 per cent shareholding in Tinkoff Bank following his public opposition to the invasion and his criticism of the government. Consequently, the Corker Binning team claimed that Mr Tinkov was a target of discrimination by reason of race (national origin) in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A number of high-profile businesspeople and politicians campaigned to lift sanctions against Mr Tinkoff including Sir Richard Branson and exiled Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khordokovsky.

Today, the FCDO lifted all sanctions against Mr Tinkov.

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