Portugal is currently reviewing citizenship applications from two Russian oligarchs, one of which is under US sanctions. Late Friday, the government announced that it is currently examining the law authorizing passports for Sephardic Jews’ descendants.
Lev Leviev (Russian-Israeli diamond oligarch) and God Nisanov (Russian property developer) are two prominent Russians who have applied for citizenship under the legislation.
Antony Blinken (the U.S. Secretary of State) stated last month that Nisanov had been one of Europe’s wealthiest men and was close to several Russian officials.
The Justice Ministry of Portugal stated in a statement that the citizenship applications of both men were “pending analysis”. It didn’t provide any further information. Representatives from Leviev and Nisanov did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.
Roman Abramovich was a Russian billionaire who was severely affected by the sanctions. He was granted citizenship in April 2021. The government was forced to tighten the rules after an ongoing investigation by a state agency.
Andrei Rappoport is a Russian businessman who has a net worth of $1.2 billion. He obtained a Portuguese passport two-years prior.
Rappoport representatives did not immediately respond to our request for comment. The US Treasury Department however identified Rappoport as having been close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018.
According to Portugal’s Publico newspaper report, all four oligarchs applied through Porto’s Israeli Community for Portuguese citizenship. Their genealogies were verified by the CIP.
Police are investigating the CIP for money laundering, fraud and falsification.
CIP declared Friday that the allegations were untrue and that all applicants had met legal requirements to obtain the certificate of ancestry. The final authority to approve is the state.
Civic Front, an association that denounces wrongdoing publicly, has asked for the suspension all pending legal proceedings regarding nationality to be closed until the investigation of the state agency.
This week, a letter was sent to Justice Minister stating that “It is becoming increasingly obvious that naturalization Roman Abramovich doesn’t represent an isolated instance.”
A spokesperson for Abramovich said that Abramovich was granted citizenship “according the rules”.
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