Snoras probe puts damage at around EUR 500 mln

Damage caused by suspected criminal activity by two former managers and main shareholders of Lithuania’s bankrupt bank Snoras are estimated at around 500 mln euros, prosecutors said LETA/BNS after completing their pre-trial investigation in the bank asset misappropriation case.

They said sufficient evidence was collected during the pre-trial investigation to prove the suspects’ guilt in committing the crimes.

Prosecutor Darius Stankevicius of the Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Department at the Prosecutor General’s Office said Raimondas Baranauskas and Vladimir Antonov are suspected of large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement of Snoras’ assets, as well as criminal bankruptcy and asset laundering.

“Today I made the decision to close the investigation,” Stankevicius said at a news conference, adding that he would inform Russian prosecutors about the completion of the probe.

“(…) the suspects are hiding in Russia and are not extradited to Lithuanian law-enforcement. The criminal activity resulted in extensive material damage amounting to almost half a billion euros,” he said.

Other formal suspicions brought against the two men include fraudulent accounting, abuse of office and document forgery.

Baranauskas has asylum in Russia

When asked what identify document Baranauskas currently has, Stankevicius said the former CEO of Snoras has been granted the status of a refugee in Russia, but no other details are known, adding that his Lithuanian passport has expired.

“The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation has officially notified us that Baranauskas has been granted refugee status,” he said.

“We have no further information and the Russian Federation would not provide it to us. Therefore, I cannot answer your question. He must have some document”.

The prosecutor said the search for the suspects will continue until they are found.The prosecutors suspect that 35 transfers, worth from 5 mln euros to 74 mln euros, of Snoras’ cash and securities into personal accounts at Swiss-based banks were performed between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2011.

They also suspect that two large-scale unlawful transactions in Snoras’ assets were concluded between 2009 and 2011.

They say Snoras suffered a loss of almost 500 mln euros as a result of all these transactions.Stankevicius explained that damage was caused to the bank’s creditors and shareholders and, indirectly, to the state, which compensate eligible depositors for their lost money.

500 mln EUR civil action, restrictions on assets in Snoras’ case

Robert Sadianec, head of the Special Task Board at the Financial Crime Investigation Service, said the team of Snoras’ bankruptcy administrator brought a civil action worth almost 500 mln euros and was recognized as a civil plaintiff in the pre-trial investigation.

“Assets worth 230 mln euros were located throughout the pre-trial investigation period and are currently under restrictions,” Sadianec said.

“The search for assets and ownership right restrictions covered a total of 18 states. The assets involved ranged from cash in bank accounts to cars and businesses owned by the suspects,” he said.

As part of the complex investigation, around 100 people in Lithuania and abroad were questioned and procedural coercive measures were taken more than 50 times to find and obtain evidence, the official said.

Sadianec added that most of the documents were obtained from Swiss banks.

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