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Portugal detains rabbi over Abramovich naturalisation

Portuguese prosecutors have detained a rabbi and carried out raids over the naturalisation process of a number of Jewish people, including Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea football club.

Portugal’s Public Prosecution Service said late Friday that it has detained the leader of Porto’s Jewish community, Daniel Litvak, as part of their investigation into possible cases of “influence peddling, active corruption, falsification of documents, money laundering or even tax evasion”.

Local media reported that Litvak was arrested on Thursday as he was preparing to travel to Israel.

He is scheduled to appear before a judge on Saturday who will decide what measures to impose on him.

Portuguese prosecutors had announced in January that they were investigating the naturalisation of Abramovich, who was granted Portuguese nationality in April 2021.

The owner of European champions Chelsea, who sit third in the English Premier League, benefited from a law passed by Portugal in 2013 allowing all descendants of Sephardic Jews, persecuted and expelled at the end of the 15th century, to obtain Portuguese nationality.

A certificate attesting to his descent was issued by the Jewish Community of the city of Porto in northern Portugal.