Chelsea owner Abramovich immigrates to Israel, becomes country’s richest citizen
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He filed a request 'like any other person'

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

Interior Ministry confirms Russian billionaire who has had UK visa issues landed at Ben Gurion Airport, received ID card; will live in Tel Aviv mansion he bought from Gal Gadot

The owner of England's Chelsea Football Club, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, as he leaves court in London, on October 4, 2011. (AP/File)
The owner of England's Chelsea Football Club, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, as he leaves court in London, on October 4, 2011. (AP/File)

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.

Gal Gadot at the Oscars on March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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.

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.

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, center, applauds at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Sunday, May 21, 2017. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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.

Roman Abramovich, the owner of England’s Chelsea soccer club sits, watches the Euro 2008 group E qualifying soccer match Israel vs Russia at the Ramat Gan stadium outside Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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.

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