Monday 17 June 2019

Abramovich finds an Israeli refuge

Roman Abramovich. Photo: Reuters
Roman Abramovich. Photo: Reuters

Raf Sanchez

Roman Abramovich has become an Israeli citizen a month after the UK delayed renewing his visa amid diplomatic tension between London and Moscow.

The Chelsea FC owner, who is Jewish, exercised his right under Israel's Law of Return, which states that Jews from anywhere in the world can become citizens of Israel.

The oligarch, worth an estimated £8.6bn (€9.85bn), instantly became Israel's wealthiest person after receiving his citizenship yesterday.

The 51-year-old had been travelling in and out of the UK for years on a Tier-1 investor visa, designed for wealthy foreigners who invest at least £2m (€2.3m)in the UK.

He applied to renew the visa in April but did not immediately receive approval from the Home Office.

It is unclear if the UK decided to reject his application permanently but a source familiar with the matter said the renewal process seemed to be taking an unusually long time.

Mr Abramovich is believed to have returned to Russia after his visa expired. He did not attend Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup at Wembley on May 19.

The British government suggested it would take a harder line on Russian oligarchs in Britain following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

Mr Abramovich's private jet landed in Tel Aviv yesterday and he was immediately granted citizenship.

A spokesman for the Israeli interior ministry said he applied at the Israeli embassy in Moscow and was found eligible for citizenship after proving his Jewish heritage.

He has a £17.1m (€19.6m) mansion in Tel Aviv's upmarket Neve Tzedek area. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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