Sale of sanctioned Chelsea owner’s £8.5m Algarve villa blocked by Portugal

Roman Abramovich was subject to British sanctions in March (AFP via Getty Images)

Portugal blocked the sale of an £8.5million Algarve villa suspected of belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho confirmed over the weekend that the six-bed villa in the exclusive 800-acre residential estate of Quinta do Algarve had been “frozen”.

Approving reports that an investigation was underway into the Chelsea owner’s alleged ownership of the villa through an offshore holding company, Mr Cravinho said: ‘The sanctions are taken seriously by Portugal and anyone sanctioned deemed to have property or assets in Portugal will still be investigated and the assets frozen if confirmed.

Speaking ahead of an informal NATO meeting in Berlin, he said: “In this case, we have the firm belief…that the property belongs to Roman Abramovich. It has been frozen, which means it cannot be sold, mortgaged or rented out for any type of financial gain.

Concerns have been raised after a UK-based millionaire applied for a mortgage to buy the property as a holiday home, Portuguese press reports. The businessman has been identified locally as a trader based in Hertfordshire.

Portugal’s main newspaper Publico said the country’s second largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depositos, called the police after receiving the loan request in February, a fortnight before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The newspaper named the seller Millhouse Views LLC and described the owner of that company as an offshore investment holding company owned by Mr. Abramovich called Millhouse LLC.

The freezing order was reportedly put in place on March 25 following an initial investigation by a Portuguese police financial unit and government officials.

Portugal’s foreign minister said the ongoing investigation has yet to uncover any other assets in the country linked to the Russian oligarch, although he admitted it was difficult to establish who are the real beneficiaries of certain properties linked to offshore companies.

Last month it emerged that Mr Abramovich had frozen more than £5.4billion in Jersey assets and 12 luxury properties, including a nearly £100million villa which was once the home of holiday of King Edward VIII, seized by the French government.

He was subject to British sanctions in March after ministers accused him of having “clear links” to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Chelsea owner’s £430million superyacht Solaris fled Barcelona port two days before being sanctioned by the UK government.

It later emerged that a Lithuanian activist had tried to attack the oligarch’s 460ft luxury vessel before it sailed to safe haven in protest against the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The Blues are taken over by the American billionaire Todd Boelhy.

The tycoon and his consortium have signed a deal to buy the losers of Saturday’s FA Cup final in a deal worth around £4.25billion.

Chelsea have confirmed that Mr Boehly met manager Thomas Tuchel and the squad on Thursday at the club’s training ground.

Mr Abramovich obtained Portuguese nationality in April 2021 on the basis of a law offering naturalization to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the Inquisition.

It is one of several cases currently under criminal investigation in Portugal as part of an investigation that led to the arrest in March of the rabbi accused of helping the Russian billionaire to obtain citizenship.

David C. Barham