Last week saw the collapse of Snoras Bank in Latvia – the majority shareholder; one Mr Vladimir Antonov, 75% majority shareholder as we know in Portsmouth FC. The bank was seized by the Lithuanian Government on November 16th discovering 300 million Euros ($406 million) of assets may be missing which raised the risk of insolvency.
Snoras Bank is the major shareholder of Latvia’s Krajbanka; a Latvian Bank where operations were suspended today citing a “deficiency of funds.” New management has been appointed and the General Prosecutor has been informed of the findings.
“At the moment, we can talk about 100 million lati ($191 million)” that’s missing from the lender, Ints Kuzis, the chief of Latvian police, said at a press conference today.
“These resources are collateralized for the good of a third party,” said Irena Krumane, the country’s bank regulator, referring to the 100 million lati. The collateral agreements can’t be found, she said, and involve three countries, which she declined to name.
Kuzis has said that Latvia may decide to list Vladimir Antonov, the majority shareholder of Snoras Bank as wanted.
The board of the lender has been detained, with the lender’s President Ivars Prieditis remanded to custody, the newswire Leta reported, citing Prieditis’s lawyer. Saulvedis Varpins, Prieditis’ lawyer, said his client had turned to the police and offered to work with investigators and that the detention has been a shock to his client.
In December of last year the following was reported; Latvijas Krajbanka AS announced that its Board has resolved to increase the stock capital of its subsidiary company SIA Krajinvesticijas by capitalizing the loan obligations and investing funds in total amount of LVL 5,931,000.00. Upon completion of increase, the stock capital of SIA Krajinvesticijas shall comprise LVL 8,063,000 (EUR 11,472,615). The decision has been adopted in order to facilitate the activities of the subsidiary with regard to long-term investment management.
Mr Antonov see’s this groups business interests follow a pyramid scheme with Snoras Bank sat at the head of operations and now facing insolvency along with Antonov facing possible criminal charges. Alongside Latvia’s Krajbanka which also controls Krajinvesticijas; a Real Estate Developer in Latvia, it also includes; Finasta Holding, VKVP a real estate developer in Lithuania and SNORO turto valdymas again a Real Estate Developer in both Lithuania and Russia.
So where could the missing assets have possibly gone?
Last August after Antonov’s move for Saab was blocked by the European Investment Bank, plans were alleged to spend $400 million on gold mining in the former Soviet Union, Latin America and Africa over the next five years.
Finasta, his investment company, was set to bid for the Dzheruy gold deposit in Kyrgyzstan with reserves of 2.4 million ounces, the Vilnius, Lithuania-based business reported. Gold has risen 14 percent in London trading this year to $1,619 an ounce. Finasta will set up a joint venture by end-2011 to hold the assets, including some in Russia, taking at least a 50 percent stake.
We await the announcement to hear whether Mr Antonov is to officially face charges relating to the missing assets of both banks.