bne IntelliNews -
Vladimir Antonov, former chairman and major shareholder of Lithuania's Snoras bank, has lost his bid to avoid extradition from the UK to face fraud charges.
Antonov, who is a Russian national, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranuskas, are facing trial in Lithuania for allegedly illegally transferring around €470mn and $10m in assets and funds from Snoras. Both men are also alleged to have forged bank documents in order to conceal their activity, involving 33 transfers to Swiss and other offshore accounts controlled by them, between 2008 and 2011.
The pair denies these charges and claim they are being made scapegoats, following the controversial nationalisation of Snoras in late 2011. Antonov and his business partner claim that the nationalisation took place to silence the Lietuvos Rytas newspaper, which the bank owned, for being critical of the Lithuanian government. Antonov additionally claims that the Lithuanian authorities are after him because he is Russian.
A high court in London dismissed these claims on May 6. The judges concurred with the Lithuanian prosecutor general’s office that the decision to issue the European arrest warrants (EAWs) in 2011 was valid and justified.
“There is simply no evidence, direct or indirect, from which it can be established, directly or by inference, that there was a causal link between the issue of the EAW to prosecute Vladimir Antonov and his Russian nationality,“ the judges ruled.
Lithuanian prosecutors issued an EAW for Antonov and Baranuskas in November 2011. The charges made Antonov quit ownership of English football club Portsmouth that year as well.
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