Exiled Russian oligarch loses appeal over bank collapse

30th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Billionaire Sergei Pugachev, a former Kremlin insider who fled Russia after falling foul of the authorities, on Saturday lost an appeal against a Moscow court ruling ordering him to pay around one billion dollars over his role in the collapse of his bank.

Set up by Pugachev in 1992, the International Industrial Bank (known as Mezhprombank in Russian) was declared bankrupt by the Moscow arbitration court in November 2010 which said it had failed to report accurate account data and was unable to satisfy its creditor obligations.

Once one of Russia's richest men who presided over a multi-billion-dollar shipping empire, Pugachev fled to Britain in 2011 after falling out of favour with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But last year, the Moscow court ordered him to pay 75.6 billion rubles to the bank's former clients over his role in the lender's collapse.

Pugachev immediately appealed to Russia's Supreme Court to quash the ruling, but he lost the appeal, the court said on Saturday in a statement quoted by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

He stands accused of fraudulent bankruptcy and is wanted by the Russian authorities on charges of fraud and embezzlement. His overseas assets have been frozen and Interpol has issued a warrant for his arrest.

But he denies any role in the bank's collapse.

In September, the financier -- who was once known as "Putin's banker" for his close ties to the Kremlin -- took his case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, demanding $12 billion from Moscow whom he accused of "stripping" his assets out of vindictiveness.

Pugachev, who has held French citizenship since 2009, also filed suit against Russia in Paris for extortion and organised fraud and a judicial investigation was opened in December 2014.

A former senator from the Tuva region of southern Siberia, Pugachev built an empire in Russia until his disgrace which began with the collapse of Mezhprombank.

Since leaving Russia, he has become an outspoken critic of Putin.

© 2016 AFP

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