Roman Abramovich. Picture: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Roman Abramovich. Picture: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Geneva — Switzerland’s top court lifted reporting restrictions on the reasons for Roman Abramovich’s failed bid for residency
in the Alpine nation, rejecting the Russian billionaire’s claims that disclosure would damage his reputation.

The judges cited concerns raised by Swiss police that Abramovich was "suspected of money laundering" and had "presumed contacts with criminal organisations," according to the text of the September 21 decision released on Tuesday.

The owner of London’s Chelsea Football Club was seeking to keep the comments out of the public.

These would make his residency in the country "a threat for public safety" and also "a reputational risk for Switzerland," according to the document.

Abramovich, through his lawyer, denies the allegations made by the Swiss authorities.

Abramovich applied for residency in Switzerland in 2017 only to withdraw the application in mid-2017 after it ran into difficulties. The reasons he dropped the request remained a mystery, in part because of the injunction banning a Swiss newspaper from reporting the reasons behind his decision.

The September decision, released at the time only to the parties involved, allowed the Tribune de Geneve to publish their story, citing officials from the Swiss Federal Police who had written to Swiss immigration authorities warning them to reject Abramovich’s application.

"Any suggestions that Mr Abramovich has been involved in money laundering or has contacts with criminal organisations is completely false," Daniel Glasl, Abramovich’s lawyer, said in a statement.

"Mr Abramovich has never been charged with participating in money laundering and does not have a criminal record."

Glasl said he would ask the Swiss Federal Police to correct their statement and would also file a criminal complaint against "persons unknown" over the document leak.

A spokesman from Fedpol did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

He declined to confirm the veracity of the police letter at the time the Tribune de Geneve story came out. The only comment he gave then was to say that Fedpol does assess whether residency permit applications threaten Switzerland’s domestic or international security, but that the decision to approve or deny rests with the Swiss  State Secretariat for Migration.