Bankas Snoras AB’s former owner asked a U.K. judge to put the collapsed Lithuanian lender’s civil lawsuit against him on hold while he fights extradition to the Baltic country where he faces fraud allegations.
The bank should also be denied its request that Vladimir Antonov list his worldwide assets to comply with a freezing order issued by the court in May, his lawyer, Ian Mill, said today. Such a list could incriminate Antonov in Lithuania and help his extradition there, Mill said.
“There is a risk to the life of my client if he is returned to Lithuania,” Mill said at the London hearing. “The case involves my client’s political motivation and persecution by Lithuanian authorities and there’s a risk he will not get a fair trial.” He wouldn’t elaborate on the threat outside court.
Antonov, a Russian, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas were detained in London in November after Lithuanian authorities issued a European arrest warrant on claims they forged documents and fixed accounts to siphon at least 1.7 billion litas ($602 million) from the country’s third-biggest bank by deposits, causing its collapse.
The freezing order against Antonov, which bars him from spending or moving his money, is “toothless” without a list of his holdings, the bank’s lawyer, Antony Zacaroli, said. The banker has only disclosed a “chalet” in Switzerland, he said.
Both men deny the claims and are fighting the fraud allegations in Lithuania.
Snoras, based in Vilnius, filed a civil lawsuit in Britain on May 18 against the men for 395.5 million pounds ($615 million). The judge scheduled an October hearing on Antonov’s requests today and denied the bank’s bid for a temporary list of his assets to be placed with the court while awaiting the autumn hearing.
“If my client were going to do something with his assets, he would have done it by now,” meaning the list wouldn’t be as useful as the bank believes, Mill said. “If he’s going to be dishonest, he simply won’t include it in the affidavit.”
Antonov, accused of using the money to buy luxury homes, cars and a U.K. soccer team, claims the case may be politically motivated due to articles in newspapers he owned.