Russian-Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of London’s Chelsea soccer club, has immigrated to Israel, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday.
Abramovich, 51, landed in Ben Gurion International Airport earlier in the day, the ministry said, and received an Israeli identity card under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel. He arrived in his private jet.
The move to Israel comes after Abramovich was unable to extend his visa in the UK amid a diplomatic spat between London and Moscow.
The Nativ Liaison Bureau, which facilitates immigration from Russian-speaking countries, said Abramovich applied for citizenship from abroad last week.
“Roman Abramovich arrived at the Israeli embassy in Moscow like any other person. 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 Channel 10 news.
Abramovich, worth $12.5 billion according to the British press, instantly became the richest person in Israel Monday.
He will live in a mansion in Tel Aviv’s neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, a former hotel he purchased from Israeli Hollywood actress Gal Gadot, Ynet reported.
As a new citizen, Abramovich is exempt from taxes in Israel on income earned abroad for 10 years, and need not declare the sources of that income for the same period.
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Abramovich’s British visa expired last month. His previous visa was granted before more rigorous regulations were instituted in April 2015. Even before moving to Israel, Abramovich was a frequent visitor to the country.
He formally has residency in Jersey in the Channel Islands, a tax haven, but has never taken it up.
Abramovich would have to explain the source of his wealth to receive a new British visa, according to reports. There is no evidence that Abramovich has done anything wrong, but the United Kingdom has scrutinized Russian businesspeople and diplomats more carefully since the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, in March. Several Russian diplomats were expelled following the incident.
Abramovich missed Chelsea’s Football Association Cup final victory over Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London this month. He has owned the team since 2003 and has been present at nearly every game, until his visa problems began.
JTA contributed to this report.