Russian police arrested a man suspected of plotting the abduction and murder of Alexander Volovnik, president of OAO Fondservisbank, a Moscow-based lender that counts spy Anna Chapman as a board member.
The man borrowed about 800 million rubles ($24 million) from the bank and tried to kill Volovnik to avoid repaying the loan, Fondservisbank’s spokesman, Grigory Belkin, said by phone today. Moscow police and the Investigative Committee said the suspect tried to abduct and extort money from a president of a Moscow commercial lender, without identifying the bank.
The suspect was caught in a sting operation staged in a garage by undercover officers impersonating both hostages and abductors, according to two statements released by the law enforcement agencies. State television channel Rossiya 24 showed the person it said commissioned the crime denying wrongdoing and saying he came to the garage to pick up jars of cucumbers.
Fondservisbank, Russia’s 93rd biggest lender as of April 1 with 46 billion rubles in assets, came to prominence in October 2010, months after Chapman pleaded guilty and was deported from the U.S. as a member of a Russian spy ring. Chapman, who was initially hired to advise the bank that invests in high-technology industries, was promoted to the board of directors in May.
Law enforcement officials learned that the suspect began organizing the plot in August. Undercover officers agreed to kidnap and kill Volovnik and his bodyguard and then lured the alleged mastermind with a promise to deliver the victims to the garage, according to the statements.
A report on state television showed red paint splattered to make the scene look like a homicide. The man may be charged with arranging a murder and faces eight years to life in prison, investigators said.
Volovnik is the third biggest shareholder in the bank with a 6 percent stake, according to its website.