Bloomberg News

Latvia Says Antonov Owes $290 Million in Krajbanka Funds

December 01, 2011

(Adds insolvency procedure in fifth paragraph.)

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Latvia is seeking to recover about 150 million lati ($290 million) from Vladimir Antonov, formerly the majority owner of Latvijas Krajbanka AS’s parent bank, which was suspended by regulators because of missing funds.

Latvia’s bank regulator halted operations at Krajbanka, a unit of Lithuania’s third-biggest bank by deposits, Bankas Snoras AB, on Nov. 21, saying initially that about 100 million lati may be missing. Lithuania’s government took over Snoras on Nov. 16 after the central bank discovered assets reported on the lender’s balance sheet were missing.

“We want the money Antonov borrowed from Krajbanka,” Janis Brazovskis, deputy head of the Baltic nation’s banking regulator, told Latvian television last night. “There are several assets we have questions about.”

The Latvian bank regulator submitted an insolvency procedure Krajbanka today to the Riga district court, it said in an e-mailed statement. The regulator asked the court to name Aigars Lusis as the bankruptcy administrator, according to the statement.

Latvia froze assets, including a house and 14 cars, belonging to Antonov last week, TV3 reported on Nov. 27, citing local police. The cars are valued at about 1 million euros ($1.3 million), the television channel reported. Antonov’s house in Jurmala, a seaside city outside the capital, Riga, was also seized, according to TV3.

Former Snoras owners Antonov, 36, and Raimondas Baranauskas, 53, were arrested in London on Nov. 24 after Lithuanian authorities issued a European arrest warrant. They told a court in the U.K. capital on Nov. 25 that they were innocent of allegations of fraud and embezzlement that pushed the bank into insolvency and were granted bail by Judge Caroline Tubbs.

Antonov “strenuously denies dishonesty in any of his dealings,” Rachel Scott, his lawyer, told the court. “He doesn’t impose a serious flight risk.”

The men are accused of stealing about 879 million litas ($343 million) from Snoras in Lithuania through forgery and misappropriation, U.K. prosecutor Natalie Soule said. They allegedly forged documents to show false deposits in unspecified Swiss banks, Soule said.

--Editors: Andrew Langley, Paul Abelsky

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Eglitis in Riga at aeglitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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