Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich Is Told To Prove His Wealth Is Legitimate If He Wants To Return To The UK As Britain Begins War On Oligarchs

Roman Abramovich will have to prove his wealth is legitimate after Whitehall launched a war on oligarchs. The billionaire Russian owner of Chelsea football club is effectively banned from Britain until he can show his money is clean. Other super-rich oligarchs in Britain also face being caught up in the clampdown on foreign cash deemed 'not conducive to public good'. It follows months of tensions between the UK and Russia in the wake of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. 

The Government blamed Russia for the attack, with Theresa May describing the incident as ‘despicable’ and expelling a number of Russian diplomats.

Last night Britain’s tough stance on foreign money sparked a furious backlash from the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman condemned the UK’s ‘unfair and unfriendly’ approach to Russian businessmen.

The crackdown means Mr Abramovich, who is away from Britain and missed his club’s FA Cup win on Saturday, is being treated as a ‘new applicant’ for a UK visa, it is understood.

Under new rules to stamp out ‘dirty money’, the oligarch – who is close to Mr Putin – will have to demonstrate that his fortune is above board.

Mr Abramovich is worth £9.3billion. Technically, he will need to show that at least £2million of his investment in the UK is from legal sources.
He has held UK visas for many years, but the rules were tightened in 2015, after he obtained his most recent 40-month visa.
Mr Abramovich, Britain’s 13th-richest man who bought Chelsea in 2003, was last in the UK in early April. His Tier 1 investor visa has since expired and has so far not been renewed.
Eclipse, the private luxury yacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, pictured in Turkey
Eclipse, the private luxury yacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, pictured in Turkey

Invest £2million to fast-track visa 

The Tier 1 visa allows anyone who invests more than £2million in Britain to apply to live here.
The scheme, dubbed the ‘golden visa’, gives wealthy tycoons residency in exchange for buying UK bonds or shares through a bank.
It is open to entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
It allows Russian oligarchs to jump to the front of the immigration queue with applications that cost £1,623. Tycoons investing £2million can apply for permanent residence after living in the UK for five years, while those offering £5million can settle after three years, and those with £10million after just two. They can also bring their spouses or partners, and children aged under 18. The original investment is returned to the applicant, along with any interest accrued, meaning the Government effectively pays rich migrants to live in Britain – where they can buy lavish homes and send their children to top schools.
Since 2008, 3,709 Tier 1 visas have been issued, including 807 to Russians. A total of 6,482 family members came to the UK under the scheme, including 1,549 Russians. 

An application for renewal has been lodged with the Home Office but the process is taking longer than usual, sources close to the oligarch said. They added that the Abramovich team was ‘assuming’ it would be granted.
The businessman has risen from humble beginnings to be one of Russia’s wealthiest men and a friend of President Putin.
There is no suggestion he obtained his fortune unlawfully. However, in common with all wealthy foreign investors, he will have to satisfy officials that £2million of his money invested in the UK – the minimum for investor visas – is legitimate.
Last night Downing Street said rules had been tightened since the Russian tycoon first obtained a British visa in 2003. No 10 declined to comment directly on the case of Mr Abramovich.
But it is understood he will have to follow new procedures for those seeking a Tier 1 visa for wealthy investors.
Previously, they needed to show simply that they had £2million to invest in Britain.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said officials can refuse visas ‘if there are reasonable grounds to believe … the funds were obtained unlawfully or by conduct which would be unlawful in the UK, or if the character or conduct or associations of a third party providing the funds is not conducive to public good’.
Applicants are required to open a UK-regulated bank account for the funds to ensure they are ‘subject to UK due diligence and anti-money laundering checks’ before getting a visa.
Under the system, Mr Abramovich could face exhaustive questions from the Home Office about his business interests.

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