Football: Portsmouth ex-owner can be extradited – court
The Russian former owner of Portsmouth Football Club should be extradited to Lithuania to face fraud charges, a British court ruled Monday.
Vladimir Antonov, 37, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas, 56, are suspected of stripping 470 million euros ($640 million) and $10 million (7.4 million euros) in assets and funds from Bankas Snoras.
They were the major shareholders in the bank, Lithuania’s fourth-biggest, which went into state administration in November 2011 and was declared bankrupt.
At Westminster Magistrates Court in London, district judge John Zani ruled that the pair should be extradited to fellow European Union state Lithuania.
He concluded that they would receive a fair trial there and found no evidence of risk to their human rights.
He said the pair had seven days to appeal against the decision, but if they do not they face extradition within 17 days.
Antonov and Baranauskas are each accused of five offences of fraud and theft.
Referring to the political stability of Lithuania, which became independent from the Soviet Union in 1990, Zani said: “I am entirely satisfied that the Lithuanian judges have demonstrated their ability and willingness to act independently and to have successfully broken free from the shackles previously in place during the years of Russian domination.”
He added: “I am also entirely satisfied that it would not be incompatible with the human rights of either or both of the requested persons for extradition to take place.”
Portsmouth, who in 2008 won the FA Cup, were relegated from the English Premier League at the end of the 2009-2010 season — when they again reached the FA Cup final — after being deducted points for entering administration.
At the time the south coast club had debts of £130 million ($215 million, 160 million euros) and were on the verge of liquidation.
Portsmouth were relegated twice more as they struggled with their dire finances.
Now out of administration, Portsmouth are hovering above the relegation zone in the fourth-tier League Two, the lowest level of professional football in England.