Taken from Autosport:
World Rally Championship commercial chief Vladimir Antonov is being pursued by a Europe-wide arrest warrant.
Prosecutors in Lithuania were granted the warrant in an attempt to further their investigations into the suspected misappropriation of funds from Snoras Bank, of which Antonov is a 68 per cent share holder.
Krajbanka, another bank in which Antonov has interests, has also had its trading suspended.
Antonov, who was in London meeting with the FIA and the WRC manufacturers on Monday, is now central to the investigation.
Warrants have been issued for Antonov and his business partner Raimondas Baranauskas.
The prosecutors said: “Both former managers of the bank Snoras have been recognised as suspects with regard to the misappropriation of property on a large scale and forgery of documents. Prosecutor General Mr D. Valys signed the European arrest warrants issued against these persons.”
Convers Sports Initiatives, the firm which Antonov backs and owns the rights to the WRC, released a statement prior to the arrest warrants being issued, saying: “We are operationally unaffected by Snoras Bank entering temporary administration. It remains very much business as usual. Snoras Bank has never provided funding for the purchase of a CSI organisation, nor has it lent any money to these businesses after they have been acquired.”
I know this is a WRC-themed story, but it’s in the F1 subforum for a reason: Vladimir Antonov and Snoras helped Genii acquire Renault at the end of the 2009 season …
Renault? Corruption? Give over PM…
It’s my understanding that Antonov and Snoras gave Genii a loan to buy the team, which they’re still paying off. The actual arrest warrant relates to Anontov purchasing the commercial rights to the WRC, so the two may be unrelated. But even if the loans to Genii were completely legitimate, Anontov’s arrest and Snoras being suspended and placed into administration will affect Renault, just as it will affect all of Snoras’ customers.
I realise this veers even further from the WRC – F1 aspect of this story but he also owns Portsmouth Football Club and as a Southampton fan this has perked my ears up a little!
According to the BBC, Antonov was asset-stripping. Basically, he was doing what Michael Douglas’ character in Wall Street did: he would buy up under-valued companies on the cheap, and then shut them down and sell off the assets to make a profit. Then he used that money to front up loans to clients, laundering the money in the process.
This is a a very big topic in my country as Latvijas Krajbanka (Latvia’s Savings bank) has been an important player in the local banking sector so far. According to news, around £250 million are “missing” in Lithuanian Snoras, while another £125 million have gone astray in Latvia. These are humongous amounts for both countries. The CEO of Krajbanka is imprisoned, too.
Reports say that Antonov might be sentenced to 10 years in prison in Lithuania and to 3 years in Latvia if he was found guilty (which is likely) and if he was captured (which is less likely). The Russian businessmen are generally ill-famed in the Baltic countries and Antonov is no exception.
I don’t think it will actually affect them that much. Renault borrowed money from Antonov and Snoras, and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that the money used was obtained fraudulently. From the sounds of things, Antonov had several high-profile acquisitions and business connections – Renault, the commercial rights to the WRC, Portsmouth FC, and so on. He probably would have embezzled from smaller companies, the ones that are less prominent than Renault, simply because it would have kept the deception going for longer.
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