VILINUS - Snoras Bank’s former owner, Vladimir Antonov, has asked a U.K. judge to put the collapsed Lithuanian lender’s civil lawsuit against him on hold while he fights extradition to Lithuania, where he faces fraud allegations, reports Bloomberg. The bank should also be denied its request that Antonov list his worldwide assets to comply with a freezing order issued by the court in May, his lawyer, Ian Mill, said on July 13. Such a list could incriminate Antonov in Lithuania and help his extradition there, Mill said.
“There is a risk to the life of my client if he is returned to Lithuania,” Mill said at the London hearing. “The case involves my client’s political motivation and persecution by Lithuanian authorities and there’s a risk he will not get a fair trial.” He wouldn’t elaborate on the threat outside court.
Antonov, a Russian, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas, were detained in London in November after Lithuanian authorities issued a European arrest warrant on claims they forged documents and fixed accounts to siphon off at least 1.7 billion litas (492.7 million euros) from the country’s third-biggest bank by deposits, causing its collapse.
Restrictions lack teeth
The freezing order against Antonov, which bars him from spending or moving his money, is “toothless” without a list of his holdings, the bank’s lawyer, Antony Zacaroli, said. The banker has only disclosed a “chalet” in Switzerland, he said.
Both men deny the claims and are fighting the fraud allegations in Lithuania.
Snoras, based in Vilnius, filed a civil lawsuit in Britain on May 18 against the men for 395.5 million pounds (504 million euros). The judge scheduled an October hearing on Antonov’s requests on July 13 and denied the bank’s bid for a temporary list of his assets to be placed with the court while awaiting the autumn hearing.
“If my client were going to do something with his assets, he would have done it by now,” meaning the list wouldn’t be as useful as the bank believes, Mill said. “If he’s going to be dishonest, he simply won’t include it in the affidavit.”
Antonov, accused of using the money to buy luxury homes, cars and a U.K. soccer team, claims the case may be politically motivated due to articles in newspapers he owned.
Creditors move forward
The committee of Snoras’ creditors has decided to apply to the court for the liquidation of the bank, reports ELTA. “When the court decides to liquidate the bank, the realization of the bank’s assets and other bankruptcy procedures will be launched to the full extent,” said Aurelija Mazintiene, chairwoman of the creditors’ committee.
In her words, liquidation was “the only way stipulated in the law.”
“According to a standard bankruptcy procedure for a company, there are two ways: either an insolvency plan or a liquidation of the company. The law on bank bankruptcy does not stipulate an alternative of an insolvency plan, which leaves us with the only other way,” she said.
It was also decided to reduce the number of the bank employees from Aug. 1, saving nearly 1 million litas a month.