November 24, 2011 / 9:52 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russian financier said held over Lithuania bank crash

* Russian financier said detained on Lithuania bank crash

* Lithuania to make fifth-largest bank bankrupt

By Nerijus Adomaitis

VILNIUS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Russian businessman whose banks in Lithuania and Latvia were seized by regulators was detained in London on Thursday under a European arrest warrant, Lithuania’s interior minister was quoted as saying.

Adding to his troubles, Lithuania also decided it would make his bank bankrupt.

The troubles for financier Vladimir Antonov began last week when the Lithuanian government seized his bank, Snoras Bank, after finding a hole in its assets of about 1 billion litas ($386 million) and alleging fraudulent transactions.

Neighbouring Latvia on Monday then seized control of Snoras’s 68-percent owned subsidiary, Latvijas Krajbanka, saying it had a hole of about 100 million lats ($191 million).

Lithuanian prosecutors on Wednesday issued a European arrest warrant for Antonov, who also owns English soccer club Portsmouth, and his Lithuanian partner Raimondas Baranauskas on suspicions of embezzlement and fraud.

“As far as I know, both Antonov and Baranauskas were detained,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis was quoted as saying by Baltic news agency BNS.

No one at the prosecutor’s office or police in Lithuania was able to confirm the report. In London, a spokeswoman for the London police confirmed two men had been detained under a Europe-wide arrest warrant, but declined to give their names.

Antonov was also well known in Sweden after a failed attempt to buy troubled car maker Saab.


The central bank said it had decided that it was cheaper for the government to make Snoras bankrupt.

“There is no sense in putting money into a plane which is not going to fly,” Lithuanian central bank chief Vitas Vasiliauskas told a news conference after announcing the central bank would file to a court to have Snoras declared bankrupt.

Vasiliauskas told the news conference regulators had now found 3.4 billion litas ($1.31 billion) was missing from Snoras.

Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte said the state would have to lend to the country’s deposit insurance fund to pay back Snoras clients who had deposits up to 100,000 euros.

But she said the country would not need outside assistance from the International Monetary Fund, as Latvia did during its 2008 bank crisis, as the government would use the proceeds from a recent $750 million debt issue.

However, that leaves Lithuania needing to raise $1 billion next year to refinance a bond due for maturity in 2012.

Latvia, which has been running Krajbanka since Monday, had hinted that it wanted Lithuania to bail out Snoras, as Latvia did for its second-largest bank, Parex, in 2008.

However, that intervention forced Latvia to take a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. Lithuania wants to avoid that fate.

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