The fact that Roman Abramovich was not extended by a British visa was not written only by the lazy one. And this is understandable: a billionaire, behind whom hundreds and thousands are the same, only with less high-profile names, investors in the British economy, not only could not return to the country, but could not attend the FA Cup final, where his "Chelsea" defeated Manchester United.
As it turned out later, the story of the non-extended visa was not a fake designed to attract attention, as some initially thought. Information at once to several publications was confirmed by sources from Roman Arkadievich's entourage. They told, for example, The Bell, that the former Abramovich visa expired about three weeks ago, while the new one he still can not get. Interestingly, official refusal from the British authorities has not yet been received - they continue to review the documents, but they obviously do not do this very actively.
Although the media has information from the "sources", it's still not possible to talk about anything with certainty: the official representative of Roman Abramovich declined to comment. Similarly, the representatives of Home Office, the British state institution responsible for immigration control, also entered.
What was it, why does the context matter to all businessmen with assets in the UK and what are the opportunities?
Abramovich and the UK: the history of relations
Since 2003, when the football club Chelsea was purchased, the businessman spent a lot of time in the UK. In this case, a residence permit, which seems to be logical in this situation, he did not have. Some media outlets wrote that Roman Arkadevich at least once (in 2016) tried to do this by submitting an application and all the documents necessary for obtaining residence permit. But for reasons that remained unknown, he himself withdrew the statement six months later.
In early 2018 in the British The Sun there was information that the residence permit for Abramovich still appeared. The businessman received a residence permit on the island of Jersey, where his own program was approved: High value Residency (annual tax deductions of £ 145,000 + purchase of residential property worth £ 1 million) or the intention to conduct business in Jersey (here it is necessary to provide a business plan, and each application is considered separately). And although Roman Abramovich could go by any of the proposed ways, here there is one problem: in Britain the residence permit of Jersey does not work.
In this context, it seems particularly interesting that last week The Sunday Times included Abramovich in the list of the richest residents of the UK with a fortune of $ 9.3 billion (13th place).
How Politics Affect Business
In March 2018, Ember Radd, then the head of the UK Ministry of Internal Affairs, said that after a diplomatic scandal involving the poisoning in Salisbury of ex-colonel GRU Sergey Skripal and his daughter Julia, the authorities will check hundreds of visas issued to wealthy Russians. In the use of a poisonous agent of the type "Novice", traces of which were found on the doorknob in the house of Skripal, the United Kingdom accused Russia.
At the same time, when it was announced that Russian diplomats were being deported from the country as a first step in the diplomatic conflict, British Prime Minister Theresa May promised "to freeze Russian state assets where there is evidence that they can be used to threaten the life or property of citizens and the inhabitants of Great Britain. " She also promised to use all the powers of the UK government in relation to "rich criminals and corrupt elites," for whom and for whose money "no place" in the UK. But all this, by the way, remains at the level of statements so far.
According to Reuters UK, about 700 Russians with investment visas such as Tier 1, issued between 2008 and 2015, were to be screened when the scheme for obtaining these visas was simpler. There is no information whether Roman Abramovich ended up under this test or not.
The Tier 1 Investor visa remains one of the most popular ways of immigration to the UK for wealthy people. To qualify for it, you need to invest at least 2 million pounds sterling in the UK economy, be it securities, residential or commercial real estate, the acquisition of a business or its management on the territory of the country. In this case, the businessman is guaranteed to receive a visa for a period of 3 years and 4 months with the possibility of renewal, as well as the possibility to apply for permanent residence after five years of residence in the UK, and 6 years after the citizenship of the United Kingdom.
The fact that major Russian businessmen may suffer, it became known in mid-March, when the corresponding statement was made by Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary. The country's authorities also warned that laws aimed at combating money laundering, adopted as early as 2017, could be applied to wealthy Russians. Including Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO), an arrest warrant for foreign property of unknown origin, whose owner is required to prove the purity of its assets.
In addition, the situation was aggravated by the fact that the Latvian Seim on April 26, 2018 passed a law on the termination of cooperation of local banks with "dummy companies". Thus, the government classified foreign firms (mainly from Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan) who, according to the laws of their countries, have the right to hide financial statements or simply do not operate in the territory of the state where they are registered. The reason for the reforms of the banking system of Latvia was the accusation brought by the US Treasury to the largest private bank of Latvia ABLV, which resulted in its self-liquidation.
May 28 it became known that Roman Abramovich received the passport of Israel, and this was a rational decision. In order to obtain Israeli citizenship, the businessman needed to do only one thing - to confirm his Jewish roots, which obviously did not raise problems. More on the issuance of the Israeli passport is not affected by anything, including the relationship of the repatriate with other countries. Difficulties can arise exclusively from accounts, since banks and competent authorities can request documents on the origin of funds, but this will not affect the passport again.
The new citizenship gives the billionaire the right to visa-free entry into dozens of countries, including Great Britain. However, if the British authorities still refuse to issue a visa to Roman Arkadievich, who invested billions in the economy of the island, this measure will be very indicative. In the sense that for many wealthy Russians, Britain has long been a country where you can escape from conflicts with the state and where you can conduct business against a background of a softer tax climate. However, the "demonstrative speech" is not the only possible explanation of all that is happening. This, for example, may be due to the tightening of UK immigration policy. In particular, with the adoption in 2017 of a package of measures to combat suspicious assets, which since 2014 promoted the organization Transparency International.
In any case, Russian businessmen in Britain are in an increasingly difficult situation. Even those who are simply trying to obtain residence permit or citizenship, let alone assets and business, can face difficulties.
But there is good news: the experience of Brexit shows that it will take quite a long time to develop new laws and introduce them, even if all the forces are thrown at it. Although it is already at least clear that the time for consideration of applications for entry and obtaining a residence permit in the UK may increase. Plus, it is worth waiting for close attention to the assets of residents, considering Wealth Orders, thanks to which the authorities were able through the court to demand the arrest of "suspicious property" of foreign citizens without instituting proceedings. Lawyers also note that there is a high probability of reducing contacts with Russians of local banks and law firms when imposing additional sanctions.
Another important point is that since January 1, 2018, new restrictions have been introduced in the UK regarding an entrepreneur's visa. And if earlier in the country for six months in the year was to be only one of the spouses, while the second, joining him after 5 years, could get the same permanent residence, now everything is not so simple. The competent authorities decided that in order to obtain permanent residence, the investor's spouse also needed to stay in Britain for six months or more for a year, and for many it became impossible. In addition, now, if both parents do not go for permanent residence, the child can not receive it, which was possible under the previous conditions of the program.