VILNIUS Jan 20 A Russian banker and his
Lithuanian business partner can be extradited from Britain to
Lithuania in connection with the collapse of the Baltic
country's fifth-largest bank, a London court ruled on Monday.
Lithuania seized the bank, Snoras, in November 2011 after
the central bank said it found a 1 billion litas ($392.83
million) hole in its assets, which it later increased to around
4 billion litas.
The Lithuanian General Prosecutor office has said Vladimir
Antonov, a former owner of Portsmouth Football Club, and
Raimondas Baranauskas are wanted on suspicion of charges
including asset embezzlement valued at a combined 1.7 billion
euros and document fraud.
They have both denied wrongdoing and are expected to appeal
against the ruling handed down by Westminster Magistrates'
Antonov bought the English club in June 2011, but had to
step down as its chairman after the club's parent company went
into administration following the closure of Snoras, which he
owned more than 60 percent of.
Baranauskas, who had a 25 percent of Snoras, left Lithuania
for London after the bank's closure, while Antonov had been
living there even before it was shut.
The closure also led to the winding up of its subsidiary in
neighbouring Latvia, Krajbanka.
A spokeswoman for the Lithuanian prosecutors said the
extradition request had been approved, which was confirmed by
the Westminster court.
No one was immediately available to comment on behalf of
Baranauskas, while one of Antonov's lawyers declined to comment.
($1 = 2.5456 Lithuanian litas)
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius and Julia Fioretti in
London; Writing by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Alison