Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
(photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
Three days after immigrating to Israel, Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire businessman and owner of London soccer team Chelsea FC, has withdrawn his application for an investor visa to the United Kingdom, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Sources close to the businessman said that after receiving Israeli citizenship, he no longer required a visa to travel to the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, without a visa, Abramovich will not be allowed to work in Britain. News of the visa request withdrawal came as Chelsea FC announced it was freezing its new stadium project, a decision that was tied to the delay in his receiving a visa.
In a statement, the club said: “No further pre-construction design and planning work will occur,” and the decision was made due to the current unfavorable investment climate.
“He understands and respects that the UK is reviewing its processes, and has therefore chosen to withdraw [his visa request] until a new process is in place,” the source said, explaining that for the time being there was no need for Abramovich to have a visa.
Once the UK sets a new policy, though, “he will want to clarify any misunderstanding and speculations. He has spent many years in the UK and is a legitimate businessman. Nothing has changed,” the source said.
Abramovich visits the UK for only short periods. This means that he should have no problem traveling there on his Israeli passport.
Since he submitted the renewal request, there has been speculation as to why the British government is delaying issuing his visa. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed to members of Parliament that the government was conducting a review of all visas issued to foreign investors. How the new process will look and how long there will be delays is not known.
Abramovich arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday morning, met with Interior Ministry officials and received his Israeli ID card.
Earlier this week, the Post reported that Abramovich’s UK visa request had not been denied, as some press had reported, but was under review. In addition, there have been no formal requests or questions directed at the businessman from the British Home Office, and publicly no statements have been made regarding the affair.
According to Forbes, Abramovich, at the age of 51, is worth $9.1 billion and was ranked the 139th richest person in the world and the 12th richest person in Russia in 2017.
Abramovich’s business ventures include Millhouse LLC, a British registered company that manages assets owned by him and his partners. He also holds stakes in Evraz (a multinational coal and steel mining company headquartered in London) and Nornickel (a Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting company). He acquired Chelsea FC in 2003, and has had many successes since, including a 2012 UEFA Champions League title.
Over the years, he has been a frequent visitor to Israel and donated to causes in Israel and to Jewish communities throughout Russia.
He recently received an award from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia for his contribution 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 has given to advanced medical ventures at the Sheba Medical Center, including the establishment of a nuclear medicine center. In addition, he contributed $30m. to the establishment of an innovative nanotechnology center at Tel Aviv University.
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