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    Bank of Moscow taken over on Medvedev's instructions- former president

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    State controlled bank VTB took over Russia's fifth largest lender, Bank of Moscow, on orders from President Dmitry Medvedev, Vedomosti business daily quoted on Monday former bank president Andrei Borodin as saying.

    State controlled bank VTB took over Russia's fifth largest lender, Bank of Moscow, on orders from President Dmitry Medvedev, Vedomosti business daily quoted on Monday former bank president Andrei Borodin as saying.

    But presidential administration officials denied Medvedev's involvement.

    "If we analyze everything that was happening to Bank of Moscow from September of 2010, it's clear that there was a political decision behind this story - to get the lender under control," Borodin, who is now in London, told Vedomosti via Skype.

    "The decision was carried out by VTB chairman Andrei Kostin and Igor Yusufov, close to the upper crust. Yusufov told me directly that he was acting in the interests and on instructions of President Dmitry Medvedev, who took the decision to take state control of the Bank of Moscow," Borodin added, referring to Igor Yusufov, former special presidential representative in the energy sector.

    Borodin headed Bank of Moscow, the capital's investment vehicle under previous Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, since its inception 16 years ago. But in February the bank was taken over by VTB after Medvedev had fired Luzhkov over a lack of trust.

    Borodin, who together with his aide held 20.3 percent in Bank of Moscow, strongly opposed the acquisition but in spring he finally gave up and sold his stake to businessman Vitaly Yusufov, Igor Yusufov's son, who in turn sold the stake to VTB.

    Yusufov denied having received instructions from Medvedev.

    "This is a lie and slander," Yusufov was quoted by Vedomosti as saying. "I acted exclusively on my own initiative as far as relations with Borodin are concerned. I did not consult anyone and did not receive any instructions. In the deal (with Bank of Moscow) I acted in the interests of my son, Vitaly."

    Natalya Timakova, Medvedev's spokesperson, said that the president had never participated in any commercial talks and never gave orders on any commercial projects.

    "References to alleged orders from the country's authorities have unfortunately become good manners in the business community," she said. "Such comments are the responsibility of those who make them."

    A review of Bank of Moscow after the take-over revealed a significant hole in its assets. It received a bailout of 400 billion rubles, a record sum for the Russian banking system. Borodin fled Russia and is wanted on an international arrest warrant. He denies any wrongdoing.

    "I believe that this allegation is wrong," Borodin reiterated in the interview to Vedomosti. "Bank of Moscow's credit policy and the quality of its portfolio were created on the basis of generally accepted banking rules."

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