Roman Abramovich is already struggling in England on the sidelines of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and is also in the crosshairs of Portuguese justice. In fact, several searches were carried out and the rabbi of the Porto community was arrested as part of the investigation into the naturalization of Jewish descendants that benefited the Russian billionaire. The investigation concerns incidents that “are likely to constitute crimes of influence peddling, active corruption, document forgery, money laundering, or even tax evasion,” according to a statement by the Public Prosecution.
Daniel Litvak, the chief rabbi of Porto, was arrested Thursday in Porto as he prepared to return to Israel, local media reported. He is scheduled to be presented to a judge next Saturday to decide the judicial monitoring procedures that will be applied to him. Justice opened an investigation last January into the naturalization procedures of Roman Abramovich, owner of the London-based Chelsea Football Club, who obtained Portuguese citizenship in April 2021.
Abramovich could have benefited from the forged certificate
The Russian billionaire had benefited from a law that allowed all descendants of Sephardic Jews, who were persecuted and expelled at the end of the fifteenth century, to obtain Portuguese citizenship. As part of this law, Jewish communities in Porto or Lisbon had to provide a certificate attesting to Jewish origin.
However, leaders of these communities are suspected of issuing false certificates regarding the Jewish lineage of several candidates, she noted in a press release of the Porto Israeli community refuting the accusations. It also explains that this investigation is targeting other naturalization proceedings such as Patrick Drahi, owner and founder of Altice Communications and Media Group.
Since this compensation law came into effect seven years ago, more than 137,000 applications for citizenship have been submitted. Portugal granted citizenship to more than 56,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews, according to figures reported by the Jewish community in Porto.