On St. Barts, Roman Abramovich has renovated a soccer stadium and helped rebuild after a hurricane. As sanctions mount against the Russian oligarch, islanders say ‘they don’t want it to end.’

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looks on from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge

Roman Abramovich.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

  • Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich owns a $90 million mansion on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy.

  • Known as St. Barts, the island economy runs on tourism from ultra-rich visitors like Abramovich.

  • Since facing UK and EU sanctions, locals have defended Abramovich, calling him “a beautiful person.”

As he faces mounting sanctions, the reputation of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is being defended by unlikely supporters: locals of the Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy.

“For more than a decade, locals and staff have become exceedingly rich themselves doing favors for” Abramovich and other ultra-rich clients, an anonymous St. Barts local told Forbes. “They don’t want it to end.”

Known as St. Barts, the island’s economy runs on tourism funds from ultra-wealthy visitors like Abramovich, who has owned a $90 million mansion on the island since 2009. As he faces increasing UK and EU sanctions, including more than $7 billion in frozen assets, locals of the island have described him as “a beautiful person” and defended his presence on the island as a positive.

Abramovich, once called Russia’s most charitable billionaire, has a history of making large donations, including to Israel’s Holocaust museum and a nanotechnology research center at Tel Aviv University.

On St. Barts, he paid $4 million to rebuild the local soccer stadium in 2010, paid for renovations after a hurricane in 2017, and funded repairs to a saltwater pond important to the local ecosystem, Forbes reported.

Patrice Abderraham, a private chef who worked for the oligarch on several occasions, told Forbes he believed France and the EU were misguided in sanctioning Abramovich: “They are putting everyone in the same basket,” he said. “I hope everything will work out for him.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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