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How a Collapsed Russian Bank Led to a Cyprus Court Showdown


My recent piece in International Policy Digest, about Russia's Bank of Non-Profile Assets ('Trust') suing the Ananyev Brothers, and their wives, for an alleged €267 million bank fraud at Promsvyazbank (once one of Russia's 'too big to fail' banks).


Promsvyazbank ('PSB') faltered in 2017 and Russia's central bank sent in in investigators, before appointing administrators when it became clear there was a balance sheet hole of over €1.5 billion and a 75% shortfall in PSB's to meet its regulatory capital requirements.


In November 2020, Trust obtained a worldwide freezing order from the Cyprus courts against the brothers and their wives, fearing that they will hide their assets from the Bank and other creditors, who are suing them. The Cypriot case is based on a secret forensic report by global auditors, KPMG, setting out four schemes the Bank says sucked €267 million out of PSB.


The case also shines a light on Cyprus’ now-discredited “golden passport” scheme, where Cyprus sold citizenship to wealthy investors in Cypriot property schemes and other government funds. The scheme was popular amongst Russian and Chinese oligarchs. The scheme was closed in October 2020, when the European Union threatened to take action against Cyprus over the way it operated.


Update: the District Court of Limassol, at its own initiative for procedural reasons, adjourned the hearing concerning the worldwide freezing order over assets of Dmitri and Alexei Ananyev and their wives, previously granted by the Court in November 2020. The worldwide freezing order remains fully in force. Subject to a directions hearing on 19 April 2021, the substantive hearing on the worldwide freezing order is expected in May.


(Disclosure: the author is an advisor to one of the parties in this case and has written about the case with his client's permission.)

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