The sister of a banker accused of defrauding Otkritie Financial Corp. of $183 million bought a Ferrari, a Bentley and a luxury home in Spain with the proceeds, lawyers for the brokerage told a U.K. judge.
Otkritie, part-owned by Russian state-run VTB Group, is suing several former employees including George Urumov and Sergey Kondratyuk over an alleged fraud involving Argentine warrants and bonuses for colleagues. Otkritie’s lawyers today won a court order against Kondratyuk’s sister Natalia Demakova and two companies because they hadn’t offered any defense in the case.
Demakova, a 43-year-old Russian, bought the cars, property and Russian bonds within months of the fraud being carried out, according to Otkritie’s lawyer, James Willan. She “should be ordered to give those assets up,” he said. “They are ours.”
The default order granted by the judge Nigel Teare today means that Demakova doesn’t have a valid defense and Otkritie can start trying to recover the assets in Switzerland, where she held bank accounts.
“We are pleased with the significant progress made today,” Alexey Karakhan, deputy chief executive officer of Otkritie, said in an e-mailed statement. “Teare’s orders will enable us to recover over $28 million in assets that are already frozen in Switzerland and Spain.”
Demakova wasn’t present or represented in court and hasn’t responded to Otkritie’s attempts to contact her, Willan said.
Willan didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail asking for Demakova’s contact details. Otkritie believes she is living in Spain, according to legal papers filed by the bank.
Urumov denies any wrongdoing and says he was fired for exposing fraud involving his bosses and counterparties including OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, according to court documents from his employment lawsuit against Otkritie. He was detained by London police investigating the fraud in October, and no charges have been filed.
Otkritie is also seeking a default judgment against Kondratyuk, who is in prison in Switzerland while prosecutors investigate his role in the alleged fraud, Willan said. Details of Demakova’s purchases were handed over to prosecutors by Swiss bankers who documented them.
Judge Teare said he would expect a fraudster to “lie low for a while” after committing the crime, rather than buy cars and property.
The purchases were “unusually well-documented for a fraud of this sort” because of detailed records kept by the Swiss bank, Willan said.
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