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Moscow bank chief flees to London: reports

The head of a top Russian commercial bank created by the former Moscow mayor has fled the country in fear of criminal prosecution, reports said on Tuesday.

Andrei Borodin, president of the powerful Bank of Moscow “has left Russia,” a source told Interfax news agency.

The reason is the launch of a probe into a fraudulent $415 million loan the bank gave to a small firm allegedly connected to an inflated purchase of land from the wife of Moscow’s deposed mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the source said.

Russian news agencies quoted sources in the banking circles as saying that Borodin was now in London due to his fear of police actions against him.

London has attracted a string of Russian oligarchs, notably Boris Berezovsky and Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who have chosen it as a place of self-exile in fear of prosecution in Russia.

The Bank of Moscow was created by the formerly powerful Luzhkov and became the country’s fifth largest bank after gaining Russia’s wealthiest city as a client.

But Luzhkov was sacked last September after a month-long smear campaign that exposed corrupt connections between the City Hall and the real estate company Inteko, owned by the mayor’s wife Yelena Baturina.

Russian investigators started looking into the suspect loan in December, however the case has not yet targeted specific individuals in the Bank of Moscow.

Luzhkov and his billionnaire wife have both fallen from favour since the mayor’s ouster, with investigators raiding Inteko in February and state bank VTB taking over the city’s 46.48 percent stake in the Bank of Moscow.

The state bank wants to eventually acquire all of Bank of Moscow, but Borodin said last month that he and other minority shareholders are interested in buying the stake back from VTB.