A Moscow court has suspended Bank of Moscow President Andrei Borodin and his first deputy Dmitry Akulinin from the bank's management for the duration of a criminal probe into a 12.76 billion ruble loan ($455 million) granted by the bank to an obscure real estate company, court spokeswoman Yekaterina Ilyina said on Tuesday.
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."
The police say the money came from the city budget and ended on the personal account of Yelena Baturina, billionaire wife of former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Bank of Moscow says it violated no rules when issuing the credit.
Borodin, who is currently in London, said he intends to challenge the court's order.
A police source has said Russia's Interior Ministry put Borodin and Akulinin on a wanted list. Borodin faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Borodin has said he was not seeking political asylum in Britain and hoped to mend fences with the Russian government.
Last week, Borodin, who fiercely opposed the acquisition of his bank by state-controlled VTB, said he had sold his 20.3% stake in the bank, jointly owned with his aide Lev Alaluyev, to Vitaly Yusufov, son of former Russian energy minister Igor Yusufov, but was unhappy about the price of the deal.
"I am not happy with the price," Borodin told Vedomosti business paper. "You can sell quietly and for a real price when your arms are not twisted."
A politically-tinged fight for control over the Bank of Moscow has been going on since February, when Russia's second largest bank, state-controlled VTB, announced a gradual acquisition of the investment vehicle of former Moscow mayor Luzhkov.
The Moscow government sold its stake in the bank to VTB after President Dmitry Medvedev fired Luzhkov last fall over a "lack of trust.
MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti)