The investigation relates to incidents that “potentially constitute offenses of power abuse, active corruption, document forgery, money laundering” or even tax evasion, according to a press release from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Local media reported that Daniel Litvak, Porto’s chief rabbi, was arrested Thursday in Porto as he was about to return to Israel. On Saturday, he must appear before a judge to decide the judicial arrest procedures that will be applied to him. Last January, the Portuguese judiciary opened an investigation into the naturalization procedures of Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, who obtained citizenship in April 2021.
The Russian billionaire benefited from a law allowing all descendants of Sephardic Jews, who were persecuted and expelled at the end of the 15th century, to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Under this law, Jewish communities in Porto or Lisbon must present a certificate proving Jewish origin. Officials of these communities are suspected of issuing false certificates of Jewish origin to many of the candidates, a press release notes to the Israeli community in Porto that refutes the accusations.
Since the Compensation Act came into effect seven years ago, more than 137,000 citizenship applications have been submitted. Portugal has granted citizenship to more than 56,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews, according to figures cited by the Israeli community in Porto.