His biography as published in Wikipedia records the many achievements which enabled a swift rise from rags to riches during an era of chaos in the former Soviet Union but also relates to his alleged involvement in all manner of criminal activity ranging from extorsion to murder. Inevitably, one must recall the favourite dictum of oligarchs that “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs”

The full value of his enormous wealth (in both US dollars and secretive crypto currencies) has never been established but it enables him to enjoy the life of a multi-billionaire who maintains a chain of ultra-luxurious residences. Between these he travels by a private jet that rivals the facilities of the US “Air Force One” and by the world´s second largest yacht with its armoured plating, submarine and “defence equipment”. Most of this money has been derived as a commodity dealer in the polluting fossil fuel and metallurgical industries but it has also resulted from dabbling in the ownership of soccer clubs, their players and management.

Because of delays and refusals in his applications for the extension of visas for British, U.S. Swiss and other havens for oligarchs, he obtained in 2018 an Israeli identity card under their Law of Return which enables anyone who can show a minimum of one Jewish grandparent to make Aliyah. This incidentally entitles him to a ten year exemption of tax on all overseas income the source of which need not be declared.

So, if Mr. Ambramovich was desirous of adding a Portuguese passport to the three already held, why did he not buy his citizenship through the scheme for “golden visas”? Could this be connected to his Interpol record?

Instead, he sought acceptance as being one of the 30,000 Sephardic Jews who have already obtained this valuable status by claiming descendancy from the relatively small number of ancestors who were expelled from Portugal in 1497 by edict of king Manuel I and established communities in Turkey, the Balkans, Holland and the Caribbean. His genealogical claim was furthered by the rabbinical authorities of Porto with whom he had previously established a relationship as a benefactor of large donations to nominated Jewish causes. Because it had been previously thought that his family tree had roots in the Ashkenazi and Khazari cultures, doubt has been expressed at the devious and dubious historical nature of this procedure.

Be that as it may, the whole question of obtaining the coveted Portuguese / EU passport by payment and not by the merit of professional ability and lawful conduct of the prospective citizen should be examined anew.

Roberto Knight Cavaleiro