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Abramovich could be barred from the Island

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ROMAN Abramovich – the Russian billionaire, who has been granted Jersey residency rights – could be barred from entering the Island after the UK’s Home Office delayed the renewal of his visa, it has emerged.

Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. Picture: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT/ KEYSTONE VIA AP

Earlier this year, it was revealed by the JEP that the Chelsea FC owner had been granted the right to live in the Island under the 21E scheme, which offers tax breaks to wealthy ‘high value residents’ from overseas.

But it appears that Mr Abramovich, who is believed to currently be in Russia, may now be unable to even visit the Island, which is subject to the UK’s visa regime.

The decision to grant Jersey residency rights to Mr Abramovich has proved to be controversial, with the aluminium and oil tycoon later named, at the start of this year, on a list published by the US government of individuals with ties to the Russian government who could at some stage face sanctions.

In March diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia sank to their lowest in decades following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury – a move which is believed to have been orchestrated by the Kremlin.

As a result of the incident, the UK government is understood to be reviewing its policy towards the numerous wealthy Russians, such as Mr Abramovich, who have ties, business interests and expensive property portfolios in the UK.

It emerged over the weekend that the renewal of Mr Abramovich’s visa has been delayed with no explanation offered by the Home Office.

A spokesman for Jersey’s government said that they would not comment on individual cases but indicated that the development could have an impact on his right to visit the Island.

‘Those travelling to Jersey need to be in possession of the relevant travel documents. The same criteria will apply to anyone taking up residency in Jersey,’ he said.

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States policy on non-EU individuals visiting the Island says that Russians are among those nationalities who require visas.

‘The Jersey visa requirements are aligned to the UK visa requirements. You may be refused entry to Jersey if you don’t have the necessary visa. ​This applies to all passengers, regardless of age,’ the policy says.

Earlier this month, Mr Abramovich was named as Britain’s 13th richest man, with a personal fortune of £9.3 billion, on the Sunday Times Rich List, which said he was Jersey-based.

In January, he was placed on a list published by the US Treasury of 114 senior figures and 96 ‘oligarchs’ who have benefited from their closeness to the regime of Russian president Vladimir Putin and could face future sanctions.

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The publication of the list is believed to have been prompted by Washington’s anger at alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

According to media reports, Mr Abramovich’s application for residency in Switzerland in 2016 was rejected by authorities there and later withdrawn.

Earlier this year outgoing External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache, following the Salisbury poisoning, told the States that Jersey was likely to introduce ‘more stringent’ vetting of individuals from the Russian federation applying for residency under the 21E scheme.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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