Abramovich Received Israeli Citizenship, TV Says

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Roman Abramovich received Israeli citizenship this week after facing delays with renewal of his U.K. visa amid a crackdown there on wealthy Russians.

The tycoon, who owns London’s Chelsea Football Club but missed an FA Cup win at Wembley Stadium earlier this month in the wake of the visa problems, applied for Israeli citizenship at the embassy in Moscow, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported. Abramovich was found eligible as a Jew under Israeli law and granted citizenship, the channel said, citing an unnamed spokesman for Nativ, which handles Jewish immigration from Russian-speaking countries.

Nativ and Israel’s Interior Ministry declined to comment to Bloomberg. A spokesman for Abramovich said “it’s a private matter.”

Abramovich, currently Russia’s ninth-richest man with a fortune of $13.7 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, ran into delays in renewing his U.K. visa and is unable to travel to Britain at the moment, people familiar with the situation said on May 21.

The difficulties emerged after the poisoning in March of a former Russian spy in Salisbury. The British government has blamed Moscow for the attack, an allegation Russia denies. The episode has fueled new scrutiny of the influence of wealthy Russians in the U.K. including a review of visas granted to rich investors like Abramovich.

Holders of Israeli passports can travel to Britain without a visa for short periods of time and can stay as long as six months.

Abramovich, whose largest asset currently is a stake in steelmaker Evraz Plc, bought Chelsea in 2003 for 140 million pounds ($188 million) and is among the most prominent Russian tycoons in the U.K. He may now become Israel’s richest citizen.

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