May 19, 2022

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Portugal bans the sale of a mansion due to a ‘strong conviction’ that it belongs to Abramovich

Portugal bans the sale of a mansion due to a 'strong conviction' that it belongs to Abramovich

Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich arrives at a section of the High Court in central London on October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/File Photo

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LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal has blocked the sale of a luxury home worth 10 million euros ($10.4 million) due to a “strong conviction” that it belongs to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Portuguese Foreign Minister Joao Cravenho said on Saturday.

The property registry for the mansion at the luxury Algarve resort of Quinta do Lago – meaning it cannot be sold, rented or mortgaged – was frozen on March 25 at the request of the State Department, a month after the full Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We have a strong conviction, which has not been fully confirmed, that the house is for Roman Abramovich,” Cravinho said on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Berlin. “The challenge here is that many of those sanctioned do not have their property and assets in their name.”

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According to Publico, which initially reported the story, the former Chelsea Football Club owner tried to sell the property 15 days before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine through Delaware-based Millhouse Views LLC, owned by Millhouse LLC, which manages his assets.

However, a spokesman for Abramovich told Reuters that he does not own “any property in Portugal” and that Millhouse Views LLC is not associated with him.

“In fact, we have never heard of this company before,” the spokesman added.

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Publico said Portugal’s largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depositos, had noticed the move to sell the property and had informed the authorities. The bank declined to comment.

According to Publico, the property is located on plot 17 of the San Lorenzo North district in Quinta do Lago. A Reuters witness said there was a sign outside the walled palace saying it had been sold.

The British government and the European Union imposed sanctions on Abramovich over his links with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He denied the existence of such relations.

The billionaire was granted Portuguese citizenship in April 2021 based on a law granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the medieval Inquisition. Read more

There is little known history of Sephardic Jews in Russia.

The case caused shockwaves across Portugal, prompting prosecutors to launch an investigation and arrest a rabbi responsible for the testimony that allowed Abramovich to obtain citizenship. Read more

(1 dollar = 0.9605 euros)

(This story has been paraphrased to add an omitted word in paragraph 6.)

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Reported by Catarina Damon; Editing by Mark Potter

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.