Portugal expedited the nationalization of Roman Abramóvich after pressure from the Jewish community of Porto | International
The naturalization of the Russian oligarch Roman Abramóvich as a Portuguese citizen did not suffer the delay of other applicants of the Jewish religion, who took advantage of the legislation that allowed the descendants of Sephardim expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the fifteenth century to request Portuguese citizenship. According to a newspaper investigation Public, the Jewish Community of Porto pressed by email to the address of the Central Registries to expedite the processing for “reasons of national interest, which affect the Government itself, B’nai B’rith International [una organización judaica internacional fundada en 1843] and to a group of Portuguese Sephardim who are on the Forbes list and do not need Portugal to ‘earn’ money, to do business or for other ‘conspiracies’.
The email also alluded to a meeting between Pedro Siza Vieira, then Minister of Economy and Digital Transition, with members of the management of the Jewish Community of Porto to discuss future investments in the country of Jews of Portuguese origin. Siza Vieira was invited to an international event of the B’nai B’rith in which Roman Abramóvich also participated as a speaker.
The request took effect. The Russian oligarch became Portuguese on April 30, 2021, six months after his file was submitted to the Central Registries. However, the average delay in resolving these requests was then between 24 and 29 months. Abramóvich is one of the 56,686 Jews who became Portuguese between 2015 and 2021. In that period, just 300 petitions were rejected by the Institute of Registries and Notaries of the Ministry of Justice, which must certify whether citizenship is granted or not. and that more than 80,000 files are still pending examination.
After receiving the mail from the Jewish Community of Porto, the director of the Central Registries service replied that she would consider the Russian billionaire’s file “urgent” and that it would be resolved in less than ten months. All the reports requested from the Judicial Police, the Foreigners and Borders Service and the General Directorate of the Administration of Justice were processed quickly. None of them encountered obstacles that would prevent granting Abramovich Portuguese citizenship, unlike what happened in Switzerland which, despite being a country that is not very allergic to dubious money, refused to grant the oligarch a residence permit in 2017, considering him “a threat.” to public safety and a risk to the reputation” of the country.
The Abramóvich case brought into focus the entire process of granting nationality to descendants of Sephardim expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, regulated in a decree of March 2015 and modified in 2020. The norm was drafted with great laxity and left it up to of the Jewish Communities of Porto and Lisbon the power to issue certificates to obtain Portuguese citizenship. In six years, 137,087 files were processed. 90% of them were managed by the Porto entity, which is now subject to a judicial investigation to determine if there has been influence peddling, active corruption, document forgery, money laundering, tax fraud and criminal association.
Other millionaires such as Lev Leviev, known as the king of diamonds, a friend of Abramóvich and Berel Lazar, chief rabbi of Russia and close to Putin, was also certified in 2020 by the Porto community as a descendant of Iberian Sephardim, although there is no evidence if he has already achieved nationality and has become the second richest Portuguese in the world. The first is Roman Abramovich.
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