Moscow bankers face criminal charges over large-scale embezzlement

RIA Novosti / Anton Belicky
Bank of Moscow president Andrey Borodin and his vice-president Dmitry Akulinin have been charged in absentia with abuse of power for the alleged illegal granting of a huge loan to Yelena Baturina, the wife of the fired capital’s mayor.

The charges against the two bankers were brought in connection with a large-scale embezzlement case, writes Itar-Tass, citing a spokesperson for the Investigation Committee, Irina Dudkina. The decree on charging Borodin and Akulinin with embezzling money from the Bank of Moscow was issued on March 28. However, the two have not turned up for interrogation.

According to the bankers’ lawyers, currently both of them are in London “undergoing medical treatment”, Dudkina said. She added that to confirm the information they also submitted relevant documents from doctors.

Last week, Moscow Tverskoy court suspended Borodin and Akulinin from the bank's management for the duration of a criminal probe into a 13 billion ruble loan ($455 million) granted by the Bank of Moscow to a little-known real estate (Premier Estate) company in 2009. The money is said to have ended up in a bank account belonging to billionaire Yelena Baturina – the wife of the former Mayor of Moscow who was dismissed from the post by President Medvedev last year.

The investigation committee earlier said that "unidentified bank personnel, jointly with employees of the Premier Estate company, with the view of coming into possession of budget funds, committed fraud by drawing a loan worth some 13 billion rubles”. The loan was allegedly meant for replenishing Premier Estate's floating assets, but the funds were later remitted to Baturina’s personal account.

The Tverskoy court spokeswoman Yekaterina Ilyina quoted the investigator probing the case as saying that Borodin and Akulinin "contrary to the bank's legitimate interests, used their posts to grant a loan against property whose liquidity and valuation were unjustifiably overrated, which caused material damage to the rights and legitimate interests of the bank's shareholders, society, and also the state represented by the Moscow government," wrote RIA Novosti.

Commenting to Itar-Tass, Ilyina also said that on April 7, the court refused to review Akulinin's lawyer’s complaint against the resolution by an Investigation Committee senior investigator to arraign his client.

It was also reported that Russia's Interior Ministry put Borodin and Akulinin on a wanted list. Borodin – who may face up to ten years behind bars if found guilty – had said he was not seeking political asylum in Britain. However, given that quite a few high-profile figures fled to the UK in the past several years after criminal cases were opened against them, many doubt the banker would go back to face the charges. Following the beaten track, the majority of businessmen who are now hiding from Russian law in Great Britain stated that cases against them were “politically motivated” and that password seemed to have worked perfectly well so far.

The Bank of Moscow was created by Luzhkov in 1995 and has since then become the sixth largest in Russia.