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The IBSP Depositors Committee

Sergey Bazhanov was accused in absentia of fraud on a particularly large scale

The former owner of the International Bank of St. Petersburg (IBSP) and ex-senator of the Federation Council Sergey Bazhanov was arrested in absentia by the Vyborg District Court of St. Petersburg. The banker, who is located outside Russia, is accused of embezzling funds from a credit institution in the amount of more than 5 billion rubles. Earlier, Sergey Bazhanov was also charged with falsifying financial documents of the IBSP.

 The Vyborg District Court of St. Petersburg has detained in absentia the former chairman of the management Board and ex-owner of IBSP Sergey Bazhanov on charges of fraud on a particularly large scale (part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). This was reported by the joint press service of the courts of St. Petersburg. According to the investigation, the banker, together with unidentified accomplices, stole IBSP money in the amount of over 5.1 billion rubles. For this purpose, deliberately fictitious documents were issued under the guise of making international transactions for the supply of grain crops using irrevocable uncovered letters of credit of the bank. Now Sergey Bazhanov is outside of Russia. As a preventive measure, the court chose arrest for 30 days from the moment of his detention or extradition to the territory of the country.

IBSP lost its license to conduct banking operations in October 2019. The reason for this, as explained in the Central Bank, was a "risky business model", which led to the formation of "a significant amount of problem assets, including derivative financial instruments and unconfirmed (fake) claims against non-resident companies." Before the revocation of the license, the functions of the temporary administration in the bank were performed for six months by the Deposit Insurance Agency, which discovered operations that had signs of asset withdrawal. The "hole" in the bank's capital in 2019 was estimated at 13.1 billion rubles. Triumph JSC, owned by Sergey Bazhanov (owned about 7% of the IBSP), reached the Supreme Court, trying to challenge the loss of the license, but he sided with the Central Bank.

In the statement of the DIA on bringing to subsidiary responsibility the persons controlling the IBSP(available to Kommersant), it is said that the deterioration of the bank's financial situation was influenced by the formation of obviously non-refundable loan debt of legal entities that do not carry out real economic activities.

In addition, it refers to the assignment of non-revalued rights of claims to the company Simec Group Limited in favor of the Cyprus Hervel Investments Limited controlled by the bank. This structure was a minority shareholder of IBSPand belonged to Alexander Zuev, the brother of Sergey Bazhanov's wife, Tatyana Bazhanova. The DIA also reported on the opening and payment of letters of credit, the fulfillment of obligations under which was transferred to Hervel Investments Limited, as well as the hidden lending of IBSPto a Cyprus company through the purchase of credit notes (a type of bonds linked to a credit agreement) by UBS AG London.

Sergey Bazhanov is also a person involved in a criminal case on falsification of financial documents of accounting and reporting of a financial organization (Article 172.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), which was initiated in 2019. Earlier this year, he was charged in absentia with committing a crime, and in April he was put on the international wanted list. As part of this case, the second investigative department of the GSU of the Investigation Committee of Russia sought to arrest the banker, but the Primorsky District Court of St. Petersburg refused this request, drawing attention to the fact that he left the country even before the initiation of this criminal case.

The lawyer of Sergey Bazhanov, Alexander Meleshko, told Kommersant that he had appealed the decision to detain the banker in the St. Petersburg City Court.

"Sergey Bazhanov cannot be placed under arrest, since the use of such a preventive measure is prohibited in economic matters, and the accusation of embezzlement is only an excuse to justify the Central Bank's obtaining control over a private credit institution," he believes. In addition, there are no grounds to believe that the banker is hiding from the investigation, which was established by the Primorsky District Court, the lawyer noted, adding that no one was sent to his client for investigative actions. "The judge of the Vyborg District Court looked at the whole process on the phone, which gives the impression that the decision was pushed through the second time," Mr. Meleshko sums up.