After rejecting the Russian billionaire’s claims that disclosure would damage his reputation, Switzerland’s top court lifted reporting restrictions on the reasons for Roman Abramovich’s failed bid for residency in the Alpine nation.
The owner of London’s Chelsea Football Club was seeking to keep the comments out of the public but the Supreme Court judges cited concerns raised by Swiss police that Abramovich was “suspected of money laundering” and had “presumed contacts with criminal organizations,” according to the text of the Sept. 21 decision released Tuesday, 23rd October 2018.
The document stated that these reports would make his residency in the country “a threat for public safety” and also “a reputational risk for Switzerland,”. Abramovich, through his lawyer, has denied the allegations made by the Swiss authorities.
Despite his enormous wealth, Abramovich hasn’t been seen in London since the British government failed to renew his visa in the spring, amid a sharp decline in relations between London and Moscow.
Abramovich had applied for residency in Switzerland last year but later withdrew the application in mid-2017 after it ran into problems. In part, the reasons that led to him dropping the application had remained a mystery because of the injunction banning a Swiss newspaper from reporting the reasons behind his decision.
The September ruling, only released to the parties involved at the time, allowed the Tribune de Geneve to publish its story, citing officials from the Swiss Federal Police who had written to immigration authorities warning them to reject Abramovich’s application for residency.
Daniel Glasl, Abramovich’s lawyer, said: “Any suggestions that Mr. Abramovich has been involved in money laundering or has contacts with criminal organizations is completely false,”.
“Mr. Abramovich has never been charged with participating in money laundering and does not have a criminal record.”
Glasl said that he would ask the Swiss Federal Police (Fedpol), to correct their statement and would also file a criminal complaint against “persons unknown” over the document’s leakage.
The Federal Police declined to comment on its concerns as expressed in the court document. Fedpol does assess whether residency permit applications threaten Switzerland’s domestic or international security, however, the decision to approve or deny residency permits rests with the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration.