Russia seeks extradition of Trust bank co-owner from London

Russia seeks extradition of Trust bank co-owner from London
Nikolay Fetisov

The British authorities have begun to consider a request for the extradition of former co-owner and president of Trust Bank Nikolay Fetisov to Russia. The London police have already notified the banker, accused of swindling and arrested in absentia by the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow, of receiving the request, and released him after interrogation and inspection of his house without taking a pledge. In turn, the London court demanded that the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia provide additional materials on the criminal prosecution of Mr. Fetisov.⁠

Last week, the police notified former co-owner of Trust Bank Nikolay Fetisov of receiving a request from the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia about his extradition, conducted a search of the financier’s house, and then asked him to come down to the station with them. However, after a short interrogation, the banker was released. As Mr. Fetisov’s representatives told Kommersant, no movement restrictions had been imposed on the former co-owner of Trust Bank, nor had he been asked to deposit a pledge.

The banker’s representatives believe that no restriction measures have been elected in his respect, as the British authorities simply do not have reason to suspect Mr. Fetisov of the intention to flee the country. According to the Kommersant’s interlocutor, Fetisov bought a house in the suburbs of London and an apartment in the UK in 1999, long before the events described in the criminal case. He has lived in the UK since 1998; during this time, he did not commit any offenses. Mr. Fetisov is also on the register with the Consulate General of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, the court, which is to consider on merits the request for the financier’s extradition, received from the Russian Federation, has already demanded from the Prosecutor General's Office to submit a package of additional materials that should confirm the validity of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Fetisov in his homeland.

It is worth noting that the Great Britain is never willing to extradite accused persons to Russia, and the banker’s defense has a weighty argument for the refusal of the London court; namely, in the autumn of last year, the authorities of Ukraine rejected a similar request with respect to another co-owner of Trust Bank, Ilya Yurov, who had been detained at the Kiev airport Boryspil also on an Interpol warrant. However, after an unfavorable decision of the court, Ilya Yurov was denied extradition. Fetisov’s entourage is sure that the Great Britain will consider the request in his case after the London High Court of Justice makes a decision on the lawsuit filed by Trust Bank to its former owners.

As previously reported by Kommersant, in the lawsuit, Trust Bank (currently rehabilitated by Otkritie Bank) requires Ilya Yurov, Nikolay Fetisov, and Sergey Belyaev, as well as their wives to reimburse the damage of $830 million caused to the bank, believing that this is the amount of the irrevocable loans given out by the defendants to offshore companies controlled by them.

According to the lawsuit, when the bank was managed by the former owners, management of the bank, the issued loans were serviced through the receipt of new loans from Trust Bank by a chain of front companies, however, after the launch of the rehabilitation procedure, debts were no longer paid.

Trust Bank’s lawsuit also says that the former owners falsified the bank's accounts, without disclosing to the financial regulator that these loans have been given to companies affiliated with its owners.

As part of the ongoing proceedings in February 2016, Judge Leggatt confiscated the defendants' assets for the amount of the submitted suit and blocked the sale of real estate by structures under their control. The seized assets included London apartments, mansions in the UK and in Bali, as well as accounts in Swiss banks. The defendants' attempts to reverse the decision were rejected; justifying the refusal to unfreeze the assets, the London court actually agreed with the arguments of the Central Bank, which considered that Trust Bank acted like a pyramid under the previous leadership.

In addition to the proceedings in the High Court, since 2015, Nikolay Fetisov and other bank co-owners have been defendants of the investigation into embezzlements (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code) of Trust Bank depositors’ funds. The metropolitan police began the investigation after the application of the Central Bank. As part of the criminal case, all co-owners of Trust Bank were arrested in absentia by the Tverskoy Court and declared internationally wanted via Interpol.

In this regard, the case against the owners was separated. According to the prosecution, in the period from April 2012 to December 2014, when the bank was subjected to rehabilitation, it had a large-scale system for the withdrawal of assets. With this scheme, the then-owners of the credit organization embezzled 14.6 billion rubles ($247 million) from the bank, including eurobonds worth 4.6 billion rubles ($78 million). Eventually, these securities also fell into the hands of the bank owners.

The Basmanny District Court of Moscow has already sentenced two subordinates of Mr. Fetisov – former Acting Chairman of the bank’s board of directors Oleg Dikusar and Financial Director Evgeny Romakov – to seven years and four years, respectively. They both have been found guilty of an especially large Embezzlement (part 4 of Art. 160 of the Russian Criminal Code).

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