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Ex-Snoras Bank Owner Antonov Loses U.K. Asset-Freeze Ruling

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Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Former Bankas Snoras AB owner Vladimir Antonov, who is fighting extradition to Lithuania to face possible fraud charges, lost a U.K. court ruling to lift a freeze of his assets and delay a related civil lawsuit.

Judge Elizabeth Gloster in London today rejected Antonov’s claim that Snoras withheld evidence and took too long to request the so-called worldwide freezing order. His request to avoid giving a full list of his holdings was also denied.

“I have no doubt that a risk of dissipation remains, notwithstanding Mr. Antonov’s presence” in Britain, Gloster said of his assets. “He is a sophisticated operator.”

Antonov, a Russian, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas were detained in London in 2011 after Lithuania issued a European arrest warrant on claims the men siphoned at least 1.7 billion litas ($668 million) from the country’s third-biggest bank by deposits, causing its collapse.

Antonov, accused of using the money to buy luxury homes, cars and a U.K. soccer team, claims the cases may be politically motivated due to articles in newspapers he owned.

His lawyer, Kevin Gold of Mishcon de Reya in London, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Antonov, who lives in Britain, argued the civil case should be delayed while his extradition is decided. The extradition trial is delayed until July.

Gloster rejected Antonov’s claim his defense in the bank’s civil litigation may alert Lithuanian authorities to his potential legal strategy in a criminal matter.

“Damage caused to the bank and its underlying creditors” from a delay would “considerably outweigh any possible prejudice that Mr. Antonov might suffer,” Gloster said.

Gloster also rejected Antonov’s argument that giving a full list of his assets would provide a trail for Lithuanian investigators to follow, though she said she would order the list be available only to a limited number of the bank’s legal team. It’s use would also be limited to the civil case and not in the criminal ones in Lithuania, Latvia or Switzerland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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