How Roman Abramovich got his golden visa in Portugal

How Roman Abramovich got his golden visa in Portugal

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has Portuguese citizenship, could come and settle in Europe whenever he wanted. Editing: Watson

Journal Scan Vanity Fair America reveals behind the scenes the “rapid” naturalization of the Russian oligarch in Portugal. “Very fast?

01.06.2023, 18:5706/02/2023, 11:24

Marine Brunner

more “international”

A year ago to this day, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich sold his beloved club Chelsea for 4.97 billion euros. Since then, the oligarch, under British, Swiss and European sanctions, has been consoling himself in Turkey, where he was to spend most of the past twelve months, according to The Daily Mirror.

His ultimate goal will be to settle down in Istanbul, where he’s got a nice house for around €9.5 million — a paltry sum compared to his $9 billion fortune, according to Forbes).

MUgla, Turkey - April 18: Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's luxury yacht, called & # 039;  Eclipse & # 039;  Moored at Marmaris Cruise Port in Mugla, Turkey on April 18, 2023. (Photo by…

‘Eclipse’, one of Roman Abramovich’s yachts, moored in Muğla, Türkiye. Photo: Anatolia

However, there is another country in which a businessman can settle tomorrow: Portugal. In addition to the Russian and Israeli passport, Roman Abramovich can boast of having Portuguese citizenship. Simsim is a great fit, if one day he has the idea of ​​a lifelong stay in the European Union – or to challenge European sanctions imposed on him.

The hard life of the few

In 2018, Ukraine has not yet been attacked by Russia, but the climate is already hostile to the pesky oligarch. Tensions peak: The attempted poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March seriously undermines the British government’s relations with Moscow.

After careful consideration, Roman Abramovich prefers to withdraw his visa renewal application in the UK, which has just expired. He is determined to find a new home in Europe. Switzerland, why not?

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For the inability to elect a domicile in VerbierBy a decision of the Lausanne court, which considers that the oligarch’s presence would endanger the reputation – even the security – of Switzerland, the extremely wealthy oligarch is forced to look elsewhere.

Direction: Portugal

This is good. Three years earlier, Portugal had just paved the way facilitated naturalization. To obtain the precious “golden visa”, it is enough to fulfill two conditions: to show a clean criminal record and proof of Sephardi origin, Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the Inquisition, in the 15thH a century.

So yeah, easier said than done. Fortunately, Abramovich has the support of a prominent rabbi: Alexander Boroda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, who takes it upon himself to support his candidacy.

On July 16, 2020, The candidate with the Hebrew name “Nahman Ben-Aharon” sends an email in English to the Municipality of Porto.

“Dear community, I am a Sephardi Jew and a member of the Sephardic community. Rabbi Boroda interviewed me and testified to my Sephardi ancestry. Thank you, Roman.”

Email, consulted by Vanity Fair.

As attachments, a birth certificate, a PDF titled “Letter from the Rabbi,” photocopies of Russian and Israeli passports, and a Word document titled “Roman Abramovich [sic] family tree”.

1 hour and 53 minutes into the reception, someone answers:

Four days later, the Jewish community’s account in Porto also received a SWIFT payment of €250, from Roman Abramovich’s Swiss bankers at UBS, as a “charitable contribution”. The amount is the standard processing fee. The naturalization candidate’s file is immediately sent to the Porto back office for processing.

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A few months later, in February 2021, a Porto board member was very adamant: For reasons of “national interest”, such as “Portuguese Jewish diplomacy in the world”, “revival of the national economy” and “the prestige of Portuguese state institutions”, the processing of Abramovich’s request should be considered “Sooner.”

according to Vanity FairThose claiming “naturalization by birth” must expect between 24 and 29 months of age. By this contact, Abramovich, he will have only waited nine weeks. On April 30, 2021, the oligarch gravitating in Vladimir Putin’s orbit officially acquired European citizenship.

Unfortunate coincidence if any: Fifteen days later Daniel Litvak, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Porto, will be arrested for “influence peddling, active corruption, document forgery, money laundering, qualified tax evasion and collaboration of criminals,” he recalls. guardian.

The malaise of the Portuguese authorities

Abramovich’s new nationality will be under the media’s radar for a few months. It wasn’t until December 2021, shortly after this was confirmed by the Portuguese press, that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny brought the case to the world’s attention.

“[Abramobich] I finally managed to find a country where you can give bribes, make semi-official and official payments, to end up in the EU and NATO.

The Portuguese foreign minister immediately denied the “unfair” allegations during a press conference. Santos Silva denounced, “The notion that Portuguese public sector employees carry suitcases of money is insulting.”

With all due respect to the Minister, according to former and current Portuguese politicians interviewed in recent months by Vanity Fair Roman Abramovich’s quick obtainment of a European visa could have caused some embarrassment to the authorities of his new homeland.

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In the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and European sanctions, the Portuguese government admitted that Roman Abramovich would not lose his Portuguese citizenship. He may not be prevented from traveling to Portugal.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

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