BBC Chair Linked to Russian Oligarch’s Crypto Firm: Report

BBC chair Richard Sharp reportedly invested in Atomyze, founded by Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, throughout 2019


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key takeaways

  • BBC chair Richard Sharp reportedly invested in a blockchain company linked to a now-sanctioned Russian oligarch
  • Sharp is not considered to have breached the UK’s current sanctions nor to have committed any wrongdoing

Richard Sharp, chair of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reportedly made investments three years ago into a crypto firm linked to a now-sanctioned Russian oligarch.

According to a report by The Guardian on Monday, Sharp funded Swiss crypto company Atomyze throughout 2019. Atomyze was founded by billionaire Vladimir Potanin, also known as “Nickel King.”

The UK government sanctioned Potanin — one of Russia’s richest men — in June for continuing to “amass wealth as he supports Putin’s regime” following the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Sharp’s unreported investments into Atomyze came via Cayman Islands company ABCP GP Ltd, prior to his appointment at the BBC, where he was made company director for a two-month period.

The BBC’s office was contacted for comment but did not return a response by press time.

Atomyze is a blockchain platform for digitizing and tokenizing commodities including palladium, gold, silver and nickel with ties to Russia’s mining and smelting giant Nornickel.

The company is best known for becoming Russia’s first crypto company added to the country’s central bank list of approved digital asset operators, shortly before its invasion of Ukraine.

Sharp, a former banker with eight years of experience at JPMorgan and 23 years at Goldman Sachs, joined the BBC as its non-executive chairman in February 2021.

While the chairman has since vacated his role at the Swiss firm, an employee of Sharp’s personal investment office sits on the board of directors, per the report.

Sharp is not considered to have breached the UK’s current sanctions nor to have committed any wrongdoing. Russia has sanctioned the chair, along with the BBC’s director general Tim Davie and other BBC staff, who have been refused entry into the country ever since Russia’s invasion began.

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