Russian bank sues after police raid

13th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The bank owned by Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev on Saturday launched legal action after armed and masked police raided the Moscow offices of the National Reserve Bank.

"The actions of the members of the police were violent, inconsistent with the bank's goodwill in submitting all necessary documents for the investigation, were carried with gross violations of Russian legislation and damaged (the bank's) business reputation," it said in a statement.

The bank sent the complaint to several prosecutors including Russia's and Moscow's prosecutor general, urging "verification."

The statement said the fact that "people wearing black masks entered the bank had a big impact" and appears to have been intended as a "means to exert psychological pressure."

The raid, which lasted an hour, had to do with "operations by one of the bank's clients in 2008" and did not "affect day-to-day activities", the bank had said on its website on November 2.

While the raid was under way, Lebedev's spokesman Artyom Artyomov said in footage shown by Russian news agencies: "Men in masks, armed with automatic weapons are blocking the building."

Police confiscated documents from two of the bank's offices including the headquarters, he added.

Lebedev controls the bank through his National Reserve Corporation and also has a number of media assets which include Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the Independent daily in Britain.

The raid was done as part of a criminal probe, Moscow police spokesman Viktor Biryukov told Interfax without elaborating.

© 2010 AFP

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