Political Thriller Around the Abramovich Villa in Austria

PeopleOther ♦ Published: January 9, 2024; 23:41 ♦ (Vindobona)

The sale of a villa on Lake Fuschl to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's family in Salzburg has been revealed to have disappeared. The property was acquired through an offshore letterbox company and a British trustee. The Green Party is now calling for the sale to be reversed, requiring a trust deed. The party is seeking clarification on how the sale can be reversed without the deed.

The Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is said to have come into possession of a property in Austria via a straw woman. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons/ Brian Minkoff-London Pixels/ CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

In Salzburg, the file on the sale of a villa on Lake Fuschl to the family of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has disappeared, as reported by ORF. This information was announced by Provincial Councillor Martin Zauner (FPÖ) in an answer to a question from the Green Party. The Green Party is now calling for the sale of the villa to be reversed, for which the deed of trust is required.

Simon Heilig-Hofbauer, deputy chairman of the Green Party in the provincial parliament, expressed his astonishment at the disappearance of the deed and called for urgent clarification. The Greens would now like to examine how the sale can be reversed without the deed.

Opaque sale of the villa

A villa on the southern shore of Lake Fuschl, once bought by a British citizen, is at the center of opaque asset transfers by Russian oligarchs, as reported by ORF. Research by the "Cyprus Confidential" project revealed that the villa, which owns over two hectares of forest and agricultural land, actually belongs to Russian billionaire and Putin friend Roman Abramovich.

The official version of the purchase, which took place 16 years ago and cost 11 million euros, has been called into question. It is suspected that the purchase was financed by a company in the British Virgin Islands. A trust deed later showed that the British woman was merely acting as a trustee for Abramovich.

In 2017, the villa was then gifted to Abramovich's daughter, who is still registered as the owner in the land register. This procedure indicates the use of straw men to conceal the true ownership structure, possibly due to the use of illegal funds or to keep the public in the dark.

Abramovich's daughter is not currently on any sanctions list and the gift was made five years before Abramovich was sanctioned. The property on Lake Fuschl has remained inconspicuous in the meantime, although the post boxes on the property indicate that it has remained unused for a long time.

Greens demand reversal of the sale of the Abramowitsch villa

The Green Party is calling for the reversal of the sale of the fisherman's house on Lake Fuschl, which allegedly came into the possession of the family of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich illegally, as reported by ORF. This advance follows a report by the research project "Cyprus Confidential", which shows how the property was acquired via an offshore company and a British trustee.

Simon Heilig-Hofbauer, regional planning spokesman for the Green Party, expressed doubts that the strict requirements of the Salzburg Land Transfer Act were adhered to when the property was sold to EU foreigners. He suspects that the true identity of the buyer was deliberately concealed to circumvent the law and is calling on the Salzburg authorities to investigate the case and initiate a reversal of the sale.

Cyprus Confidential's research indicates that real estate in Austria is very popular with wealthy Russians and may be involved in opaque asset transfers by Russian oligarchs. This points to a broader pattern of wealth shifting and the use of straw men to disguise genuine real estate purchases. These developments raise questions about the effectiveness and enforcement of property purchase laws in Austria, particularly concerning foreign investment and the possible misuse of offshore structures to disguise ownership.

The situation surrounding the villa on Lake Fuschl and the involvement of Abramovich's family is symptomatic of the challenges faced by national authorities in combating money laundering and illegal real estate transactions. Given the geopolitical situation and the sanctions against certain Russian oligarchs, this case is particularly explosive. The demand for a reversal of the sale emphasizes the need for stricter control and transparency in real estate transactions to ensure that legal regulations are complied with and illegal activities are prevented.

Green Party Salzburg