The charitable side of ... Roman Abramovich

Georgina Lock

The now former oligarch speaks about his charity work as much as he does about the rest of his life - not at all.

Even for those not remotely interested in football or big business, the name Roman Abramovich is on the radar. The Russian billionaire shot to fame when he bought Chelsea Football Club for £140m in 2003. But such a sum is mere loose change for the man who last week made £7.4bn by selling his controlling stake in Russian oil company Sibneft to Gazprom, the state-owned gas giant.

Abramovich's lavish lifestyle has been widely publicised. He reportedly owns at least five different homes across Europe, including a £28m mansion in Belgravia. In true footballing style, the 'Chelski' owner is partial to expensive cars - he has spent £250,000 on various gas-guzzlers.

So what about his giving? A member of Abramovich's team of PAs at Chelsea declined to discuss this side of his interests and referred all enquiries to John Mann, head of international PR for Sibneft. Mann was marginally more helpful, saying: "He is very secretive about it. He believes that if you are going to shout about your charitable giving, then what's the point in doing it?"

Mann added: "I don't even have the figures to give an educated guess because he doesn't seek publicity."

Abramovich apparently does make private donations, most of which are understood to be channelled into Russia. He has reportedly spent about £1.5bn on his charity the Pole of Hope to help those in the Arctic region of Chukotka, where he is governor, and has set up the national football academy in Russia. As for the UK, his only well-known charity connection is Chelsea's partnership with Clic Sargent - a two-year deal to help raise the cancer charity's profile. Since April, this has raised £135,000.

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