TCS Founder Says Hacker Attacks on His Bank May Be From Ukraine

Oleg Tinkov, founder of Russia’s TCS Group Holding Plc, said online attacks on the consumer lender may possibly have originated from hackers in Ukraine.

“It might be from Ukraine,” Tinkov said in an interview with Ryan Chilcote on Bloomberg Television today. “There has been some speculation, but I cannot tell you exactly. We are an online bank, so it’s not nice for us.”

TCS, part-owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., earlier said 90 percent of its services have been restored after the disruption to its website.

Russia’s central bank and consumer banks VTB24 and Alfa Bank have all been affected by denial-of-service attacks in the past month after the country annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. The world’s top industrial powers threatened further sanctions to deter President Vladimir Putin from taking over other parts of Ukraine and suspended Russia from participating in the Group of Eight.

Tinkov, whose bank traded in London in a $1.1 billion initial public offering in October, said TCS services are available to potential clients in Crimea.

“We don’t need any physical operation,” Tinkov said. “We are the only Internet bank in Russia. The Internet is there and we are already in Crimea so people can apply for the credit cards and we can deliver credit cards over post.”

As a Russian and “a patriot,” Tinkov said he has to support Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

Credit Cards

The lender, founded as Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2007 by serial entrepreneur Tinkov, has issued more than 4 million cards in Russia and ranks third in lending, according to the company. The bank, which operates without branches, is modeled on McLean, Virginia-based Capital One Financial Corp., which pioneered the distribution of credit cards through direct mail.

Tinkov forecast that net income may top $200 million this year after the lender reported 2013 profit of $181 million on March 3.

The shares surged 5.3 percent today to $7.00 by 1:19 p.m. in London. The lender’s value has slid to $1.27 billion from about $3.2 billion at its IPO.

“The behavior of investors is really irrational to me,” Tinkov said. “We are making tons of money and we will still grow above the market.”

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