Portugal. ‘No withdrawal of nationality from Abramovich’ due to any EU sanctions

  • Lusa
  • 11 March 2022

"The EU sanctions do not include the administrative loss of nationality, and could not do so for basic reasons of respect for the rule of law", according to the Portuguese government.

New sanctions being prepared by the European Union against Russian oligarchs, as a result of the invasion of Ukraine, may affect Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, but the administrative withdrawal of his recently acquired Portuguese nationality in this context is not possible, according to Portugal’s government.

“In the framework of the preparation of new sanctions by the EU [European Union], which require a legal basis, Portugal has already expressed, namely through the voice of the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, its support for the inclusion of new personalities due to their obvious connection to President Putin’s decisions, which applies, among others, to Roman Abramovich,” the Ministry of Justice said in a response sent to Lusa.

According to the same statement, “the EU sanctions do not include the administrative loss of nationality, and could not do so for basic reasons of respect for the rule of law.”

In the text sent to Lusa, the Ministry of Justice does, however, recalls that “the conditions of attribution of that nationality are under judicial enquiry that is ongoing.”

The government further stresses that sanctions decreed by the EU, which have already affected “many hundreds of Russian citizens linked to the regime” and which will soon be the subject of a new package of punitive measures, “are immediately applied in our country”, but those decreed by “third countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not apply necessarily and immediately in the territory of the European Union.”

The Russian citizens targeted by the sanctions are banned from travelling in the EU and their assets in the bloc have been frozen.

The UK sanctions have halted the process of selling the English football club Chelsea, which is owned by Abramovich, and the club is also barred from selling match tickets and buying and selling players.

The Russian billionaire had earlier this month announced that he planned to sell the club, which is the current European and world champion, “due to the current situation” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He promised that proceeds would go to “all victims” of the conflict.

The office of Portugal’s attorney general confirmed on 19 January that Portuguese nationality had been granted to Abramovich under the Nationality Law for Sephardic Jews and that the procedure was the subject of an investigation by public prosecutors.

In parallel, the Institute of Registration and Notary (IRN) also announced at the end of January that it had opened an investigation into the matter.

The naturalisation of Abramovich was first reported in late 2021.