Ukrainian War: More Russian Oligarchs Apply for Portuguese Citizenship | International
The list of Portuguese billionaires continues to grow. from Portugal Audience A news outlet recently revealed that a Russian oligarch quietly obtained Portuguese citizenship more than a year before the most notorious case of Roman Abramovich. Andrei Rappoport, who has a net worth of $1.2 billion according to Forbes magazine, became a Portuguese citizen on December 30, 2019, taking advantage of legislation designed for the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled in the 15th century from the Iberian Peninsula.
Rappoport, born in 1963 in the former Soviet state of Ukraine, is a close ally of other Russian oligarchs like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now exiled in London, and Mikhail Fridman, the owner of the Dia supermarket chain who had to resign after being included in the list of Russian businessmen sanctioned by the EU after the invasion of Ukraine. Andrei Rappoport chaired one of Russia’s largest private banks before entering the energy sector as chairman of state-owned Federal Grid Company. In 2006, he took control of Russia’s largest power grid construction company, which had lucrative contracts with the same government entity he ran. In a mystifying transaction, Rappoport sold the $2 billion company to a partner of Abramovich for $216 million.
According to the Portuguese press, Rappoport has become the first Russian oligarch to obtain Portuguese citizenship based on a certificate of ancestry he received from the Jewish community of Porto, which has been involved in a legal investigation into anomalies. in many nationalization processes. The second Russian billionaire to obtain Portuguese citizenship was Roman Abramovich, who apparently jumped the queue in front of the long line of applicants for access to the European Union. The former owner of England’s Chelsea Football Club never obtained a British passport, but his new Portuguese passport issued on April 30, 2021 granted him all the privileges of European citizenship – the ability to move freely around the EU and no visa requirement to enter 116 countries. , according to 2021 Index of passports The data.
According Audience, two other Russian oligarchs are in the running for Portuguese passports – God Nisanov, who applied for citizenship on June 26, 2020, and Lev Leviev, who applied for citizenship on November 6, 2020. Both obtained certificates of ancestry from the Jewish community of Porto, which approved almost 90% of the 137,087 applications submitted to the Portuguese Ministry of Justice from 2015 to 2021. Both Nisanov and Leviev have close ties to the Kremlin. Nisanov, who was decorated by President Vladimir Putin with the Order of Friendship in 2014, is a property developer with a huge fortune ($4.3 billion, according to Forbes). He is also on the list of US-sanctioned businessmen, and “a close associate of several Russian officials”, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
There’s no shortage of Leviev’s wealth either. Known as the “king of diamonds”, he was the partner of the Angolan Isabel dos Santos, the richest businesswoman in Africa and daughter of the former Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos. Leviev is friends with Abramovich and Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, and is also close to Putin. Porto’s Jewish community certified Leviev as a descendant of Iberian Sephardim in 2020, according to the Portuguese weekly, espresso. His ties to the powerful dos Santos family helped him take over many African mines and challenge dominant De Beers in the gemstone market.
The controversy over irregularities in granting citizenship under the Nationality Law to Sephardic ancestors of Portuguese descent makes it difficult for the Justice Department to approve Leviev and Nisanov’s claims. The circumstances surrounding Abramovich’s Portuguese citizenship have been under investigation for months, and Portuguese Judicial Police recently executed new search warrants at law firms and private homes linked to Operation Open. Door, while the investigation into irregularities in the processing of passport applications is called.
The decree that allowed Portuguese citizenship to be granted to descendants of Jews expelled from the country more than five centuries ago entered into force on March 2, 2015 and was amended in 2020. The driving force behind the law was the Socialist Party legislator Maria de Belem Roseira. She is the aunt of Francisco de Almeida Garrett, a lawyer and director of the Jewish community in Porto, and one of those currently under investigation. After the revelation of the Abramovich affair and the trafficking of Portuguese passports, the Portuguese government tightened the conditions for obtaining citizenship on the basis of Sephardic ancestry, such as the requirement to demonstrate real and current links with the country.