Saturday, 26 November 2011

Russian banker Antonov arrested in bank probe in UK

Russian banker and owner of Portsmouth FC, Vladimir Antonov, is to appear before court in the UK in connection with a high-profile fraud and money laundering case in Lithuania.

Both, Antonov and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas were arrested Thursday night after a warrant was issued by Lithuanian prosecutors.
The City of Westminster Magistrates Court is to decide on the extradition for further questioning of the two former majority shareholders of recently nationalized Snoras Bank.

“Both former managers of the bank Snoras have been recognised as suspects with regard to misappropriation of property on a large scale and forgery of documents,” Lithuanian prosecutors wrote in a statement, cited by BBC.

Suspicion fell on the two businessmen after $470-million worth of missing in securities were found in one of the country’s biggest banks, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said earlier. And the decision to nationalize the bank was made last week due to its failures to comply with regulator’s requirements, to provide requested information and its poor assets condition, according to Inforsud.

Antonov used to own 68 percent of the bank through his company Convers Group, and Baranauskas had a share of 25.3 percent. Convers Sports Initiatives, Antonov co-owns with Roman Dubov, Portsmouth FC in June.

The businessmen, however, deny any wrongdoing, and Baranauskas didn’t deny the possibility of seeking political asylum in the UK.

“I should seriously consider this,” he told Lithuanian paper Respublika in an interview, published Nov. 24.

Antonov claimed they were not trying to hide and had given their passports to the local authorities in London.

“…we are not thieves and gangsters. When Lithuania decides to question us using civilized methods, we’ll go there,” he told the paper on the telephone.

The extradition is to be approved by the court if Antonov and Baranauskas don’t provide evidence they are being prosecuted for their political views or because of any other kind of discrimination.

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