Steel mogul Alexander Abramov launched a lawsuit against Secretary of State Penny Wong after the former government sanctioned 67 Russian elites and oligarchs in April over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions caused serious reputational damage and the legal consequences have led to continued financial loss, his barrister Ron Merkel QC told the Federal Court today.
He wants the sanctions lifted, arguing they are unique to Australia as no other country has imposed similar bans on Abramov, who co-founded Russia’s biggest steelmaker, Evraz.
“Our real point here is that the approach the minister has taken is misguided,” he said.
Australia’s sanctions have also affected Abramov’s dealings in New Zealand, Merkel said.
He said the case was unusual in that public announcements from former foreign minister Marise Payne explaining her decision would be included in the case.
On 7 April, Payne announced that the government had decided to impose “targeted economic sanctions and travel bans” on 67 people “for their role in Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine”.
Those sanctioned included Russian military, business and government officials.
Wong is represented by lawyer Brendan Lim.
The federal government is considering an application to prevent public release of some information in the court documents, he said.
The case will return before Judge Susan Kenny on August 26.