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Ex-Baltic Bank Tycoon Sued Over $10 Million Russian Loan

Vladimir Antonov, former owner of Latvijas Krajbanka AS, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, U.K., on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg
Vladimir Antonov, former owner of Latvijas Krajbanka AS, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, U.K., on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Administrators for a Latvian lender that went bankrupt in 2011 are suing its former owner, Vladimir Antonov, in London over a loan to a member of the Russian parliament.

Latvijas Krajbanka AS gave a $10 million loan to Denis Davitiashvili, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker at the time, in June 2008 that was contrary to the bank’s interests and was only made possible by his association with Antonov, according to a claim filed in London’s High Court of Justice in June and made public this month. The loan defaulted and the security was unenforceable or worthless, according to the claim. The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in London.

The 2011 collapse of Lithuanian lender Bankas Snoras AB, Krajbanka’s parent, rocked the two Baltic nations, prompting about $2.1 billion of deposit-insurance payouts and a run on savings in Latvia. Antonov is already fighting criminal and civil charges and an extradition request from Lithuania and Snoras. This latest claim is the first from Krajbanka in London and follows criminal charges filed in a local Latvian court in January.

“Under the influence of Mr. Antonov, the bank advanced and then managed the performance of the loan in a fashion which it would not have done but for the influence of Mr. Antonov,” according to the claim.

Antonov said Aug. 22 by phone that a lawyer hadn’t yet been appointed to represent him in the Krajbanka case, declining further comment. His extradition proceedings were adjourned until December last month. He disputes all the claims and denies any wrongdoing.

Unpaid Loan

Kevin Gold, a lawyer for Mishcon de Reya in London, which represents Antonov in his litigation with Snoras and Lithuania, didn’t respond to two e-mails, a voice-mail and a phone request for comment through his assistant.

Calls to two numbers listed for Davitiashvili on the Liberal Democrats’ website, found them no longer in use. The party’s press office declined to provide his contact details because he’s no longer a member of parliament.

Snoras also fought legal proceedings in Russia against Davitiashvili in 2010 over an unpaid loan, according to reports by Lithuanian newspaper Verslo Zinios in 2010. The bank said at the time that there was a case, though it declined to comment on the details.

Snoras’s bankruptcy administrator, Neil Cooper, who won an order from a London court in 2012 freezing Antonov’s assets around the world, said he sees “a great deal of overlaps between the parties” in Krajbanka and its parent.

“We’ve known all along that Krajbanka has got claims against Antonov,” Cooper said. “I suppose at some point they felt that they needed to formalize this. The action that they have taken, we don’t believe that that affects Snoras at all.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Eglitis in Riga at aeglitis@bloomberg.net; Milda Seputyte in Vilnius at mseputyte@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Andrew Langley, Michael Winfrey

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