Deal with ex-Moscow mayor wife reportedly forces banker to flee Russia

Elena Baturina (RIA Novosti / Sergey Berezin)
The President of the Bank of Moscow Andrey Borodin has reportedly left Russia in order to escape prosecution over an alleged credit fraud scandal with Elena Baturina, the wife of the former Moscow mayor.

­According to RIA Novosti, quoting anonymous sources, the banker is now in London. The Bank of Moscow has not confirmed that Borodin went abroad, saying only that he has been on sick-leave since last week. No other information as to the bank head’s current location has been provided.
However, Mikhail Zadornov, who heads Russia’s second largest bank, VTB 24, told journalists on Tuesday that Borodin actually left the country. 

A criminal investigation into the alleged fraud is now on, but no official charges have been brought against the banker yet, Interfax reported citing its source in law-enforcement agencies. Investigators are now looking into the circumstances of the deal to establish the role of each of the Bank of Moscow’s top managers. The source said that only a detailed investigation will show whom of those persons can be brought to justice, if any. 

The criminal case into a doubtful deal between the Bank of Moscow and a Premier Estate company was launched last December. The company, having a registered capital of 10,000 rubles (around 350 dollars), requested a loan of 12.7 billion rubles (about 458 million dollars) for the purchase of 58 hectares of land in Moscow – and the loan was granted. The land was supposed to become the site for the construction of the Setun Hills residential estate. The developer was Inteko, a company owned by Baturina. Eventually the credit ended up on Elena Baturina’s personal accounts. 

The Bank of Moscow is one of the largest commercial banks in Russia, with the Moscow government being the largest shareholders, owning almost 47 per cent of stocks. It was established in 1995, during Yury Luzhkov’s first mayoral term.
After almost 18 years in office, Luzhkov was dismissed from the post by President Dmitry Medvdev “over a loss of confidence” last September. The new mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, has initiated a number of investigations into suspicious deals of the previous Moscow government; something Luzhkov has called political prosecution. His wife is currently residing in London, but he himself has repeatedly said that he is not willing to leave Russia. At the same time, since his dismissal, Luzhkov has made several attempts to obtain residence permits in European countries including Latvia and the UK, which he says is needed for his business.