UK court agrees to extradite bankers to Lithuania

Tuesday 21 January 2014 10.44
Raimondas Baranauskas (R) and Vladimir Antonov deny the charges
Raimondas Baranauskas (R) and Vladimir Antonov deny the charges

A Russian banker and his Lithuanian business partner can be extradited from Britain to Lithuania in connection with the collapse of its fifth-largest bank, a London court has ruled.

Lithuania seized the bank, Snoras, in November 2011 after the central bank said it found a 1 billion litas (€290m) hole in its assets, which it later increased to around 4bn litas.

The Lithuanian General Prosecutor office has said Vladimir Antonov, a former owner of Portsmouth Football Club, and Raimondas Baranauskas are wanted on suspicion of charges including asset embezzlement and document fraud.

They have both denied wrongdoing and are expected to appeal against the ruling handed down by Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Mr Antonov bought the English club in June 2011, but had to step down as its chairman after the club's parent company went into administration following the closure of Snoras, which he owned more than 60% of.

Mr Baranauskas, who had a 25% share of Snoras, left Lithuania for London after the bank's closure, while Mr Antonov had been living there even before it was shut.

The closure also led to the winding up of its subsidiary in neighbouring Latvia, Krajbanka.

A spokeswoman for the Lithuanian prosecutors said the extradition request had been approved, which was confirmed by the Westminster court.