Penny Wong with short silver hair looking concerned.

Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov suing Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong over financial sanctions

A Russian billionaire suing Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister claims sanctions imposed over the invasion of the Ukraine have caused him severe reputational damage.

Steel mogul Alexander Abramov launched legal action against senator Penny Wong after the former government’s April sanctioning of 67 Russian elites and oligarchs over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

His lawyer Ron Merkel QC told the Federal Court on Friday the sanctions caused severe reputational harm and the legal consequences had led to continuing financial losses.

Mr Abramov, who co-founded Russia’s largest steel producer, Evraz, wants the sanctions removed, arguing they are unique to Australia because no other country has placed similar bans on him.

“Our real point here is the approach the minister has taken is misconceived,” Mr Merkel said.

“Australia’s sanctions have also impacted Mr Abramov’s dealings in New Zealand.”

He said the case was unusual as public announcements by former foreign minister Marise Payne explaining her decision would form part of the suit.

On April 7, Senator Payne announced the government had decided to impose “targeted financial sanctions and travel bans” on 67 individuals “for their unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine”.

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Former Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced sanctions on 67 Russian elites in April

Those sanctioned included Russian military, business and government officials.

Senator Wong is represented by barrister Brendan Lim.

The federal government was considering an application to prevent the public release of some information in the court documents, Mr Lim said.

The matter will return before Justice Susan Kenny on August 26.

AAP/ABC

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