Swiss police: Abramovich a security threat
Switzerland’s federal police said Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (pictured) would pose a “threat to public security and a reputational risk” to the country if he became a resident.
The Russian oligarch this week lost a seven-month legal battle against a newspaper to prevent the publication of details of why he was refused Swiss residency.
His residency became a public issue when he was prevented from travelling to the UK for last season’s Chelsea victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
The Swiss authorities described Abramovich as an alleged money launderer who is suspected of links to organised crime.
The legal battle with Zurich publisher Tamedia began in February after the group obtained a letter from the police, who were asked by the state migration secretariat to assess if the football big-spender should be allowed to move to the canton of Valais.
Abramovich, who owns a £90-million mansion in London’s Kensington Palace Gardens, applied for Swiss residency in July 2016, for the exclusive ski resort of Verbier.
The report said: “We have several pieces of police information showing that Roman Abramovich entertains contacts with Russian criminal organisations. We consider his presence in Switzerland to be a threat to public safety and a risk for Switzerland’s reputation.”
It is based partly on an inquiry in Switzerland in the late 1990s into claims that Runicom, an oil-trading business linked to Abramovich, had misappropriated part of a US$4.8-billion loan made to Russia in 1998. The probe was closed in 2001 without any further action being taken.
Tamedia initially planned to publish the police files in January but the 51-year-old oligarch obtained a court injunction to block its publication.
“Any suggestion that Mr Abramovich has been involved in money laundering or has contacts with criminal organisations is entirely false,” said Abramovich’s attorney Dr Daniel Glasl, describing the allegations as defamatory.
“Mr Abramovich has never been charged with participating in money laundering and does not have a criminal record. He has never had, or been alleged to have, connections with criminal organisations,” he added.
In May, Abramovich was granted Israeli citizenship following reports that the renewal of his UK work visa had faced unusually long delays.
Forbes estimated that Abramovich has a net worth of US$11.9 billion and is the 140th wealthiest person in the world. He also owns stakes in steel and mining giants Evraz and Norilsk Nickel.
Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. Picture credit: Wikimedia