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Controversy Surrounds Portuguese Golden Visa Program's Connection to Russian Oligarchs

Sixteen individuals closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin have acquired Portuguese citizenship through the country's Golden Visa program. This revelation comes amid concerns that the program has been exploited by wealthy Russians, including oligarchs, to bypass banking restrictions and gain access to the Schengen area. The controversy surrounding the Golden Visa scheme first emerged during the naturalization process of Roman Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club, whose credentials were vouched for by Alexander Boroda.

Controversy Surrounds Portuguese Golden Visa Program's Connection to Russian Oligarchs

According to a report by Expresso newspaper, investigations over four months focused on 115 names that had escaped public attention, with 25 individuals having profiles deemed relevant due to their professional positions or personal relationships. Out of these 25, 16 individuals have already received Portuguese nationality through the Golden Visa program. The remaining applicants, who had received certification as descendants of Sephardic Jews from the Commission for Citizenship and Naturalization (CIP), are awaiting a decision from the Institute of Registrars and Notaries (IRN).

Despite the tightening of Portugal's Nationality Law, the changes do not affect applicants with applications already in the system before the new regulations came into effect in March of the previous year. The CIP has stated that the focus of the program was to certify Russian Jews with Portuguese origins, and the final decision on nationality is at the discretion of the Portuguese government.

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The revelation has raised concerns about the exploitation of the Golden Visa program, particularly by wealthy Russians, leading to calls for greater transparency and scrutiny of the citizenship-granting process.

The controversy has also spurred debates on whether the term "oligarch" should be limited to Jewish billionaires and whether the community should accept that only such individuals from Russia and no others from different countries are labeled as oligarchs.


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