Ex-EBRD banker jailed for six years for bribery by UK court

LONDON (Reuters) - A former banker at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was jailed for six years by a top UK court on Tuesday for accepting bribes totaling over $3.5 million.

Andrey Ryjenko, 44, who has joint UK and Russian citizenship, had been found guilty of conspiring to make or accept corrupt payments between July 2008 and November 2009 while he worked at the London-based development bank.

The court was told in the trial that Ryjenko’s role at the EBRD required him to vet applications for investment from eastern European oil, gas and mining firms.

It found he struck an agreement with a U.S.-based consultant who he then introduced to a number of firms in former Soviet states to help them make applications for EBRD funding.

Ryjenko then took 50 percent of the consultant’s commission fee when the applications were approved, with the money paid into accounts in the name of his sister Tatjana Sanderson, who was declared unfit to stand trial.

“Andrey Ryjenko repeatedly abused his position of power within a publicly-funded bank by accepting corrupt payments,” Elspeth Pringle, a prosecutor with the UK’s Crime Prosecution Service’s Specialist Fraud Division said in a statement.

Ryjenko was also convicted of money laundering by concealing, disguising, converting and transferring criminal property and sentenced to two years in prison, which will run concurrently.

The EBRD, which was founded in 1991 to finance the transition of former communist Europe to market and whose main shareholders are G7 governments, said its internal systems had flagged up the wrongdoing.

“We discovered his activities in 2010 and informed the police,” it said in a statement. “The Bank did not suffer any loss as a result of his actions.”

Ryjenko’s lawyer in the case, Peter Lownds from the firm 2 Hare Court did not respond to an e-mailed request for a comment on the sentencing by the time this story was published.

Reporting by Marc Jones