Ukio Bankas Denies Being Targeted in Lithuania’s Magnitsky Probe

Ukio Bankas, a Lithuanian lender whose accounts prosecutors in the Baltic nation said were used to transfer $13 million of funds connected to a Russian tax-fraud case, denied that it was the object of a probe.

Baltic News Service on Jan. 22 reported that prosecutors are investigating claims that the funds may have been laundered through Ukio Bankas. The probe was initiated in response to a request by the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, where deceased lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered the alleged embezzlement, the news service said.

“The recent naming of Ukio Bankas AB in connection with the so-called Magnitsky case led to rushed public accusations, as if the bank had ‘laundered’ large sums of money, though no investigation of the bank or any of its employees is under way,” Arnas Zalys, chairman of the bank based in Kaunas, Lithuania, said in a statement released today through the ELTA news service.

The bank abides by all Lithuanian laws and European Union directives regarding the prevention of money laundering and is, within its competence, assisting law enforcement officials in the criminal investigations, Zalys said.

Lithuania’s largest publicly traded bank has dropped 7.5 percent to near the lowest in almost nine years since the BNS report. It fell 0.9 percent to 0.111 litas today, retreating for a fourth day.

“Imprecise interpretations and unfounded accusations about presumed criminal behavior are hurting not only the reputation of Ukio Bankas, but also the entire banking market here and the country’s image,” Zalys said, according to ELTA.

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