By Catarina Demony
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal is analysing the citizenship purposes of two Russian oligarchs - one in all whom is underneath U.S. sanctions, the federal government stated late on Friday, as a legislation granting passports to descendants of Sephardic Jews faces rising scrutiny.
Russian-Israeli diamond oligarch Lev Leviev and Russian property developer God Nisanov are the newest high-profile Russians recognized to have utilized for citizenship underneath the laws.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated final month that Nisanov, who was hit by sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was "one of many richest males in Europe and an in depth affiliate of a number of Russian officers".
The 2 males's citizenship purposes are "pending evaluation", Portugal's Justice Ministry stated in an announcement, with out giving additional particulars. Representatives for Leviev and Nisanov didn't instantly reply to requests for remark.
Sanctions-hit Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was granted citizenship in April 2021 underneath the identical legislation, a course of that triggered an ongoing inquiry at a state company and compelled the federal government to tighten the principles.
Two years earlier, Russian businessman Andrei Rappoport, who has a internet price of $1.2 billion in accordance with Forbes, additionally received a Portuguese passport.
Rappoport, whose representatives didn't instantly reply to a request for remark, was recognized by the U.S. Treasury Division in 2018 as being near Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A report in Portugal's Publico newspaper on Wednesday stated all 4 of the oligarchs had utilized for Portuguese nationality via Porto's Israeli Group (CIP), which was accountable for vetting their genealogies.
Police are investigating the CIP on suspicion of cash laundering, corruption, fraud and falsification of paperwork.
In an announcement on Friday, CIP stated the accusations have been "false" and all candidates complied with authorized necessities to acquire the certificates wanted to show their ancestry. The ultimate stamp of approval is given by the state.
Civic Entrance, an affiliation that denounces wrongdoing in public life, stated all pending nationality processes based mostly on the legislation in query must be suspended till the state company inquiry has concluded.
"It's more and more evident that the naturalisation of Roman Abramovich will not be an remoted case," it stated in a letter to the justice minister this week.
A spokeswoman for Abramovich beforehand stated he obtained citizenship "in accordance with the principles".
(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Modifying by Helen Popper)