The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been denied residency in Switzerland after federal police stalled the application process, saying he would pose a “threat to public security and a reputational risk”.
Abramovich was applying to become a resident of Valais, one of 26 cantons in the country which have the freedom to approve or deny residency applications.
Though Valais canton approved Abramovich’s residency, the federal police interjected, saying that, “the applicant’s assets are at least partially of illegal origin”, according to a letter obtained by Zurich publisher Tamedia.
The Swiss federal police have the power to reject visa applications without having to provide evidence.
Abramovich’s lawyer, Daniel Glasl, denied the allegations, saying in a statement: “He has never had, or been alleged to have, connections with criminal organisations.”
Abromovich applied for Swiss residency in June 2016, but withdrew it in mid-2017 as he wanted a retraction of some details published about the application.
In February this year, Abromovich and his legal team sought an injunction against media reporting of these details, namely the police concerns mentioned in the application. However, these were overturned on Tuesday when Tamedia reported its findings.
Abromovich also withdrew an application to renew his UK visa earlier this year, apparently after it was repeatedly delayed. The UK Home Office does not comment on why investor visas – the type Abromovich was applying for – have not been issued.
He was, however, granted Israeli citizenship earlier this year, instantly making him Israel’s richest person, with a net worth of $14.9 billion according to Bloomberg.