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Rabbi linked with Abramovich's Portuguese citizenship arrested

Abramovich-1

Roman Abramovich

Portugal has detained the leader of the Jewish community in Porto, who issued a document that allowed Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to get Portuguese citizenship last year.

Officers from the criminal investigation agency PJ detained Rabbi Daniel Litvak as part of an ongoing inquiry by public prosecutors into the granting of citizenship to Chelsea soccer club owner Abramovich, Publico said.

Porto’s Jewish community has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement, PJ said a suspect had been detained on Thursday but did not name the rabbi, adding the suspect would appear before a judge.

It said its officers raided homes, a lawyer’s office and others spaces on Friday as part of the investigation into various crimes, such as money laundering, corruption and falsification of documents.

Evidence was collected and would be analysed, it added.

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Abramovich was granted citizenship in April 2021 based on a law offering naturalisation to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian peninsula during the mediaeval Inquisition. read more

There is little known history of Sephardic Jews in Russia, although Abramovich is a common surname of Ashkenazi Jewish origin.

Applicants’ genealogies are vetted by experts at one of Portugal’s Jewish centres in Lisbon or Porto. The Porto centre, where Litvak is the rabbi, was responsible for Abramovich’s process.

Public prosecutors opened the inquiry in January. . On Thursday, a Portuguese government source told Reuters Abramovich’s citizenship could be stripped depending on the outcome of the inquiry. read more

Litvak was preparing to travel to Israel when he was detained, Publico said.

The Porto Jewish centre and the public prosecutors did not immediately reply to Reuters requests for comment.

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