Portugal investigates naturalisation of Roman Abramovich
Portugal is investigating the naturalisation process of Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, who benefited from a law compensating descendants of Jews expelled in the 15th century.
The state prosecutor’s office, asked to comment by AFP, on Wednesday confirmed “the opening of an investigation linked to the subject mentioned”.
The inquiry is being carried out by the Lisbon prosecutor’s office, a spokeswoman said, without giving further details.
The investigation is in addition to an internal enquiry by the Institute of Registers and Notaries (IRN), which granted Abramovich Portuguese nationality last April.
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.
The ongoing investigations “seem to us to be a positive step towards putting an end to unfounded theories”, Porto’s Rabbi Daniel Litvak said in a statement, referring to press reports suggesting that Abramovich might have received preferential treatment.
In December, the Kremlin’s most prominent critic Alexei Navalny fuelled the controversy by casting doubt on the probity of Abramovich’s Portuguese naturalisation process
The billionaire has also been granted Israeli citizenship.
Abramovich is worth more than $14 billion (12.3 billion euros), according to Forbes. He ranked 142nd on the magazine’s 2021 list of the globe’s billionaires.
A Portuguese justice ministry spokesman in December said Abramovich had “proved he was a descendant of Portuguese Sephardi Jews through a certificate delivered by the Israelite community of Porto”.