Roman Abramovich may lose his Portuguese citizenship, as Portugal strengthens a statute that provides citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews, which allowed the Russian millionaire to become a citizen.
This was disclosed by the nation’s Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, according to Reuters.
Last year, the billionaire was awarded Portuguese citizenship under a 2015 rule that allows ancestors of Sephardic Jews who were banished from the Iberian peninsula during the mediaeval Inquisition to apply for naturalization.
What Portugal is saying
Silva explained that the decree introduced a new requirement for applicants to show an “effective connection with Portugal”, although he made no mention of any individuals when discussing the alterations.
According to him, the law was “generous and fair” and introduced for descendants of Jews who were persecuted in the region or expelled, although he said improvements were needed.
Santos Silva stated that Portugal would impose EU sanctions on Abramovich, but that he could not be barred from entering the nation because he was a citizen.
The changes to the citizenship law had already been approved by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and will take effect soon, the minister said at a press conference for international journalists, without specifying a date.
What you should know
- According to the Portuguese publication Publico, applicants will be required to present extra documentation to demonstrate a connection to Portugal, such as proof of inheritance of a property in Portuguese territory or proof of trips to the nation.
- The Portuguese prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into Abramovich’s citizenship in January, and depending on the outcome, his citizenship might be revoked.
- Abramovich’s spokesperson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Last Monday, a rabbi in charge of issuing a certificate required for citizenship was detained on allegations of money laundering, corruption, fraud, and document fabrication.
- According to official data, about 57,000 Sephardic Jews’ descendants have been given citizenship since the law was enacted in 2015.
- The UK government has sanctioned Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, prohibiting him from transacting with UK citizens and enterprises; Chelsea has been granted a special license to continue operations; and only existing ticket holders are permitted to attend games.