'A Danger to Public Security:' Roman Abramovich Reportedly Denied Swiss Residency

Swiss police reportedly advised authorities to deny the Russian oligarch's application for residence due to money laundering suspicions and connection to criminal organizations

File photo: Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in the U.S., January 17, 2012.
Bloomberg

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was denied residency in Switzerland after Swiss police advised the government that he might be involved in money laundering or be connected to criminal organziations, according to reports in Tamedia, Switzerland’s largest media group, cited in the BBC.

The allegations have not been verified and are based on a letter written by the Swiss police, which Tamedia obtained. Abramovich and his lawyer deny the reports.

The Tamedia group won a legal battle to publish this report, after Abramovich tried to prevent the story's publication.

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According to the obtained letter, police viewed Abramovich's potential presence in the country as a danger to public security and to Switzerland's reputation.

The owner of the English soccer club Chelsea was reportedly hoping to establish his legal residence as the Swiss Alpine resort of Verbier. He is seen as one of the closest businessmen to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once referred to him in an interview as “our oligarch."

It was reported in May that Abramovich, whose wealth is estimated at between $9 and $13 billion, came to Israel to receive Israeli citizenship. According to some sources, Abramovich had actually secretly been an Israeli citizen for years.

Abramovich had to leave the United Kingdom due to the expiration of his long-term U.K. “investors visa,” after British authorities tightened up visa regulations for Russian citizens following the assassination attempt on a former Russian double-agent, Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury in March.

Although, as a Jew, Abramovich is eligible under the Law of Return for Israeli citizenship, questions arose as to how he could have automatically received such citizenship, a process that usually takes several months. The only way his citizenship could have been processed within the time-frame of his visa problems in Britain would have been through an intervention at the ministerial level.

Abramovich has extensive ties in Israel. In 2015, he bought a building in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood for 100 million shekels, which he has been extensively renovating ever since. Abramovich also donated 70 million shekels to Sheba Medical Center.