Extradited from UK banker Vladimir Antonov now assumes control over Russian banks

Extradited from UK banker Vladimir Antonov now assumes control over Russian banks
Vladimir Antonov

Russky Mezhdunarodny Bank (Russian International Bank) is next on the list.⁠

Former owner of Convers Group Vladimir Antonov, who had returned to Russia from London a couple of years ago, assumed control over Russian Investment Alliance (RIABANK JSC) early in the year. This is reported by Vedomosti citing several bankers and Antonov’s acquaintance. In addition, the banker intends to acquire another bank – Russian International Bank – through authorized representatives.

Last year, it was reported that Antonov had bought Trety Rim Investment Company, as well as one of the regional banks. Although, one of Trety Rim’s shareholders and, by coincidence, Antonov’s former lawyer Andrey Lyakhov says he has nothing to do with the company, and they have not seen each other for several years now. At the same time, according to him, it is most likely that Antonov will not be able to independently acquire credit institutions in Russia. Despite the fact there are no formal claims against him, the Central Bank of Russia considers him as an inappropriate owner.

Lyakhov used to defend Antonov before the Court of London, when the banker was charged for withdrawing assets from Bankas Snoras. In 2011, it was nationalized by the authorities of Lithuania with a $1.5-billion shortage in the budget. Another of his assets –Investbank, which Antonov had sold in 2011 – has lost its license with a debt of 44 billion rubles ($734 million).

In 2014, the British Court allowed Antonov’s extradition at the request of the Lithuanian General Prosecutor's Office, which wanted to question him as a witness in the case of Snoras, but he managed to flee to Russia. Antonov, in turn, filed a lawsuit against Lithuania to recover 40 billion rubles ($667.2 million). However, in October last year, the Moscow Arbitration Court dismissed the proceedings in this case. 

Interestingly, RIABANK JSC is controlled by co-owner of Stroyholding-Stolitsa Oleg Boyko (a member of RIB’s board of directors) and Elena Oplanchuk. The latter used to be Top Manager of Antonov’s Convers Group and Svyazstroy Concern, purchased by Antonov in 2009. In addition, Oplanchuk is also Director General of Trety Rim, with which, as noted above, Antonov reportedly has nothing to do.

According to Interfax’s Center for Economic Analysis, RIABANK JSC is 317th in the rating of Russian banks with the assets of 3.5 billion rubles ($58.3 million). Over the past year, the bank lost almost a quarter of its resource base, mainly due to the departure of corporate clients. This year, it has managed to completely abolish the interbank funding against security of assets, having had sold the portfolio. Now the funding of the bank comprises of contributions of natural persons.

The Russian International Bank (RIB) is even bigger: it is 140th with its assets reaching 22.1 billion rubles ($368.6 million). 

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