Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
(photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
Billionaire Russian businessman and recent Israeli immigrant Roman Abramovich posed a “danger to public security and to Switzerland’s reputation,” according to a confidential Swiss police file published on Tuesday.
According to a secret Switzerland Federal Office of Police (FedPol) document obtained by the Zurich-based Tamedia AG media group, Swiss migration authorities planned to reject Abramovich’s application for a residence permit due to suspicions of money laundering and contacts with criminal organizations, allegedly constituting a national reputational risk and threat to public security.
Abramovich’s attorney, Dr. Daniel Glasl, strongly rejected the “defamatory allegations” contained in the FedPol file and condemned its publication by Tamedia’s news outlets.
According to the report – which was published after a lengthy legal battle – Abramovich filed “an application for a residence permit” in the canton of Valais in July 2016, a tax-friendly home to successful businessmen, and planned to transfer his tax residency to the Swiss municipality.
Although Valais authorities readily agreed to the request and transferred the application to the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration for approval, FedPol investigators expressed their belief that a “portion of Abramovich’s assets were arrived at illegally,” without supplying accompanying evidence.
Abramovich withdrew his application in June 2017, before it was officially rejected.
In a November 2017 letter to FedPol director Nicoletta della Valle, the Russian billionaire said the information was “false and unfounded” and that he wished to reapply for a residence permit. FedPol said it had carefully checked his dossier and the ruling stood, although he was welcome to reapply and his application would be re-examined.
“We are extremely disappointed by the release and publication of confidential information from Swiss government files regarding Mr. Abramovich, which occurred in clear violation of Swiss criminal law and Swiss data protection laws,” Glasl said in a statement.
“We have filed a request for correction of facts to the Swiss Federal Police and will be filing a criminal complaint against unknown persons responsible for dissemination of this confidential information.”
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Tamedia initially planned to publish the police dossier in January, however, Abramovich obtained a court order by the cantonal tribunal in Zurich to ban its publication. On Friday, following a series of appeal processes, the Lausanne Federal Court ruled that the media group could report on the case.
“Any suggestion that Mr. Abramovich has been involved in money laundering or has contacts with criminal organizations is entirely false,” said Glasl.
“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 organizations,” he added.
Glasl said Abramovich’s legal team had continued to work with Swiss authorities in recent months in order to identify the origin of the “defamatory allegations” and correct the information.
In May, Abramovich was granted Israeli citizenship
following reports that the renewal of his work visa in Britain
had faced unusually long delays.
According to Forbes, 51-year-old Abramovich has a net worth of approximately $11.9 billion and is the 140th wealthiest person in the world. He owns stakes in steel and mining giants Evraz and Norilsk Nickel, as well as the London-based Chelsea F.C. soccer team.
Over the years, he has been a frequent visitor to the Jewish state and a philanthropist to causes both in Israel and in Jewish communities throughout Russia. He instantly became Israel’s wealthiest person upon his arrival here.
In April, he received a special award from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia for his contributions of more than $500 million over the past 20 years to Jewish causes in Israel and Russia.
Among the known donations Abramovich has made in Israel are the approximately $60m. he gave to various advanced medical ventures at the Sheba Medical Center, including the establishment of a new nuclear medicine center. In addition, he contributed $30m. to the establishment of an innovative new nanotechnology center at Tel Aviv University.
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