Former head of Bank of Moscow Borodin receives political asylum in the UK [updated]

The UK authorities have granted political asylum to former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin, the Vedomosti newspaper has reported, citing Borodin himself.

The UK Home Office does not comment on its decisions regarding individual applications, a Home Office spokesman said.

According to Borodin, his lawyers submitted a request for political asylum to the UK Home Office, citing "political motives" and "interests of politicians, including former [Russian] President Dmitry Medvedev," behind Borodin's criminal prosecution in Russia,

After resisting Bank of Moscow's takeover for a long time, Borodin finally agreed to sell the bank's shares to Vitaly Yusufov, who then sold them to VTB, the newspaper said.

In April 2011, Borodin was dismissed as Bank of Moscow president, and VTB accused the bank's top managers of fraud. After it, Borodin moved to London, where he applied for political asylum.

A Russian Interior Ministry source close to the investigation said that the decision to grant political asylum to Borodin would not impact the inquiry under way in Russia, although it could make Borodin's possible extradition and the return of his assets from the UK more difficult.

VTB Group controls a 95.52 percent stake in the Bank of Moscow. Plenium Invest Ltd, which, according to unofficial reports, is controlled by Borodin, holds 2.99 percent of the bank's shares. Other stockholders control 1.49 pecent of Bank of Moscow shares.

Bank of Moscow ranked 6th in terms of assets in the 2012 Interfax-100 survey, compiled by the Interfax Center for Economic Analysis.

"Russian law enforcement agencies will further request Borodin's extradition because he has been charged with fraud in absentia and has been declared internationally wanted," a Russian Interior Ministry spokesman told Interfax on Friday.

The Russian Interior Ministry Investigative Department opened a criminal case against Borodin and Dmitry Akulinin, another former top manager of Bank of Moscow, in late 2010. They were charged with fraudulent use of 12.76 billion rubles of the city budget through a loan of the Bank of Moscow to the Premier Estate company.

On February 22, 2012, the Interior Ministry's Investigative Department opened a new criminal case against Borodin and Akulinin. They are suspected of embezzling 6.7 billion rubles from the bank.

A criminal inquiry was previously started into facts presented in the Anatomy of Protest 2 film that NTV aired on October 5. The film said that ex-Bank of Moscow President Andrei Borodin was ready to sponsor the Russian extra-systemic opposition with the mediation of Georgian Parliament Defense and Security Committee head Givi Targamadze.

Meanwhile, ex-Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov argues that the UK authorities' decision to grant political asylum to Borodin will protect the entrepreneur from groundless accusations of Russian law enforcement services.

"In my opinion, Andrei Borodin is a decent person, an effective young banker. It seems to me that what happened is quite natural," Luzhkov told the Kommersant-FM radio station.

The decision to offer political asylum could be viewed "as certain protection for the honest banker from the accusations that were filed against him over the past two years because of his previous job as Bank of Moscow head,\" Luzhkov said.

"I reiterate that I regard these accusations as groundless," he said.

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