Abramovich 'granted Israeli citizenship' as UK reviews oligarch visas

Reuters Staff  Reuters

Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich arrived in Israel on Monday after receiving citizenship of the Jewish state.

Abramovich, 51, landed in Ben Gurion International Airport earlier in the day, the ministry said, and received an Israeli identity card under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel.

As a new citizen, "Abramovich is exempt from taxes in Israel on income earned overseas for ten years, and need not declare the sources of that income for the same period", the Times of Israel says. It quoted two unnamed sources as saying the football team owner's British visa expired in April. Ynet said he had bought a former hotel in Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean coast.

Local reports suggest that he will take up residency in Tel Aviv, having bought a property from actress Gal Gadot.

Spokesmen for Netanyahu's office contacted by AFP did not confirm or deny the report.

Joe Skipper  Reuters                   Abramovich's little boat
Joe Skipper Reuters Abramovich's little boat

Then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in March that the British government was reviewing Tier 1 investor visas granted to about 700 wealthy Russians.

Israeli passport holders can enter Britain without a visa for short stays, although they require visas to work there. The move could pay off financially as new Israeli citizens are exempt from paying tax on foreign income for 10 years.

There have also been suggestions that Abramovich fell foul of tighter regulations imposed in 2015.

According to media reports, Abramovich's British visa has run out and the application process for a new visa has been taking longer than usual. But he added: "There is a broader question about what the United Kingdom can do to crack down on people close to Putin who may have illicit or ill-gotten wealth".

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