Bank of Moscow Can Sue `Banana King' for Fraud, U.K. Judge Says

  • Vladimir Kekhman had bank accounts, property frozen in Russia
  • JFC Group founder Kekhman has declared bankruptcy in U.K.

Bank of Moscow won permission to sue Vladimir Kekhman, the founder of Russia’s biggest banana importer, for fraud in a London court.

Judge Julian Flaux said the bank had sufficient grounds to add fraud claims to its $150 million lawsuit against Kekhman and his companies over unpaid loans. A trial should be held in London to decide if the allegations are true, Flaux said.

Kekhman denies any wrongdoing. The businessman, nicknamed “Banana King” after he built a fortune importing fruit through his JFC Group, had bank accounts and property frozen in Russia in 2013 over debts of more than 3 billion rubles ($47 million). He has declared bankruptcy in the U.K., his lawyers said.

Bank of Moscow alleges that Kekhman transferred money out of his companies so that they couldn’t repay loans, according to Flaux’s written decision. Kekhman’s lawyers say the bank has no evidence the transfers were for anything other than payments for the supply of fruit.

Daniel Gritten, a lawyer for Kekhman, declined to immediately comment. Bank of Moscow’s lawyer, Anthony Riem, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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