Rabbi arrested in Portugal in case of Abramovich’s citizenship | News from Germany about Europe | DW

Employees of the criminal investigation agency PJ detained the leader of the Jewish community in the Portuguese city of Porto, Rabbi Daniel Litvak, on suspicion of issuing a document that allowed Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to obtain Portuguese citizenship. On Friday, March 11, Reuters reported.

According to AFP, a series of searches were carried out in the case. The investigation, as the agency clarified, is being conducted in connection with possible “peddling in influence, active corruption, forgery of documents, money laundering” and suspicion of tax evasion, the prosecutor’s office explained. Litvak is due to appear before a judge by the end of March 12.

In turn, the Jewish community of Porto, in a statement, denies the possibility of any wrongdoing and expresses the opinion that it has become the object of a “slander campaign.” The document emphasizes that the rabbi oversaw a department that certifies the issuance of Portuguese citizenship based on criteria “consecutively approved by a number of governments.”

“Descendant of Sephardic Jews”

As a spokesman for Abramovich’s asset management company Millhouse noted earlier, he became a Portuguese citizen thanks to the Portuguese “Law of Return”, which allows “descendants of Sephardic Jews and Converso Jews (forcibly converted to Christianity – Ed.) to acquire Portuguese citizenship”.

About 32,000 people used the “Law of Return”

According to Portuguese media, about 32,000 people have taken advantage of the Law of Return, and about 54,000 are still waiting for the decision of the authorities. A representative of the Millhouse company claimed that the billionaire studied the history of his family for many years and “with the help of rabbis and community leaders in several countries” discovered that part of his ancestors once came to Russia from Portugal.

In 1492, Spain adopted the “Edict of Exile”, which ordered all Jews to either be baptized or leave the country within three months. Those who did not comply with the edict were declared outlaws. The Jews fled to Portugal, where history repeated itself four years later. According to some estimates, a total of more than 200 thousand Jews converted to Catholicism, and from 40 to 100 thousand were expelled. The first few families of Sephardic Jews were able to return to Portugal from Morocco only in the 19th century.

According to Forbes, Roman Abramovich was ranked 12th in the list of the richest Russian businessmen, his fortune was estimated at 14.5 billion dollars (12.8 billion euros).

Earlier, on March 10, the UK authorities imposed sanctions on seven Russian businessmen and heads of state-owned companies, including against the owner of the London football club Chelsea.

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