Court brings new charges against East-European Finance Corporation ex-CEO in absentia

Court brings new charges against East-European Finance Corporation ex-CEO in absentia
Alexander Gitelson

Alexander Gitelson is suspected of stealing over 20 billion rubles.

The Vasileostrovsky District Court of St. Petersburg decided to arrest the former head of the EEFC bank Alexander Gitelson in absentia for Swindling (Art. 159 of the Criminal Code) on October 4, TASS reported. According to investigators, between March 2007 and October 2008 Gitelson and the deputy chairman of the bank's board Ivan Bibinov stole over 20 billion rubles ($347m) from the bank as loans to the companies under their control.

Yesterday, the court overruled the appeal of the ex-banker’s lawyers against the decision of the Investigative Committee to declare him wanted.

The Investigative Committee of Russia issued a red notice against Gitelson in late July. He was summoned to the ICR main investigation department for St. Petersburg to face charges, but he did not show up.

The EEFC ex-CEO was condemned for a similar charge in 2015, when the court found him guilty of stealing about 2 billion rubles ($35m) from EEFC bank and Inkasbank (part of EEFC Group). He was sentenced to a prison term and a fine of 500.000 rubles. He was also charged 1.5 billion rubles in favor of the Leningrad region that had placed 1.9 billion rubles on the deposit of Inkasbank. Gitelson's accomplice, the chairman of Inkasbank Tatiana Lebedeva was sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of 300.000 rubles. Gitelson was released in May 2017.

The investigation suspects that the ex-banker might be hiding in Austria. He came to the country in 2010 and lived in a house registered in a nominee name keeping a low profile. Gitelson was extradited from Austria in 2013, but the new charges can only be brought against him after the country issues extradition consent again. According to a spokesman of the ICR, the consent has already been received from the Austrian Ministry of Justice.

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