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Chelsea owner Abramovich immigrates to Israel, becomes country's richest citizen

29 May 2018

Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was granted Israeli citizenship and is moving to Tel Aviv after his British visa expired, according to local media reports. "He filed a request to receive an immigration permit, his documents were checked according to the Law of Return, and he was indeed found eligible", a spokesperson told Israeli television station Channel 10. He subsequently flew to Israel, the Ministry of Interior confirmed. Ynet said he had bought a former hotel in Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean coast.

The Tier 1 investor visa that Abramovich has used to visit London regularly in recent years expired in April, and has yet to be renewed amid reports that United Kingdom authorities had demanded that he declare the source of his vast fortune as political tensions with Russian Federation escalate.

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As a new citizen, "Abramovich is exempt from taxes in Israel on income earned overseas for ten years, and need not declare the sources of that income for the same period", the Times of Israel says. His previous visa was granted before more rigorous regulations were instituted in April 2015.

A spokesman for Abramovich also declined to comment on the report. Israeli passport holders can enter Britain without a visa for short stays, which would mean that Abramovich would be able to visit England, though he will still need a visa to work there.

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Another Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, reported on May 24 that Abramovich had chose to seek Israeli citizenship after facing problems with getting a British visa.

Relations have been strained since the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March, an act Britain has blamed on Russia but in which the Kremlin denies any involvement.

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He has own Chelsea football club since 2003.

Chelsea owner Abramovich immigrates to Israel, becomes country's richest citizen