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Saab's Russian backer seeks clean slate

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 4 Mar 2010, 10:13

Published: 04 Mar 2010 10:13 GMT+01:00

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In a meeting with journalists at Geneva's ongoing motor show, Antonov confirmed that he aims to formally own the Swedish car maker and claimed that if he remained unable to lend the financing, Spyker would struggle to raise the funds to complete the deal.

When asked if he was prepared to provide the outstanding $24 million which Spyker is due to hand over to General Motors on July 15th, Antonov replied:

"Absolutely. If I am not allowed to then Victor (Muller) could be in a tough situation," according to the newspaper.

The Russian businessman, who lives with his family in London, confirmed that he is working to clear his name and persuade General Motors that the allegations which have circulated around his business empire are unfounded.

Antonov, who said that trips to his native Russia always carried an element of risk to his personal security, claimed that reports that the US government ordered GM to stop the deal over Antonov's involvement sounded unlikely.

"I think that it is more that GM does not want to transfer technology to Russia. In the same way as they tried to stop Magna and Russian Sperbank from buying Opel," Antonov said, according to SvD.

Antonov revealed that he has enlisted the help of a team of US lawyers and investigators to persuade GM to change its position. Either way it is the Russian's banks that are backing Spyker Cars, Victor Muller and thus the Saab purchase, Antonov claimed.

"They threw me out but they are using my money," he said.

Swedish media have reported that the deal was delayed in late 2009 as an investigation ordered by the Swedish government into the workings of Spyker and its Russian investors landed on the desk of the FBI and put a temporary stop to Spyker's takeover of Saab.

A source close to the government told business daily Dagens Industri (DI) that Swedish security services (Säpo) were given the task of tracking the business interests of the Antonov family.

The assignment was initiated by the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) which brought in private investigators to aid the mission.

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Säpo is reported to have found connections between the Antonovs and organised crime as well as involvement in money laundering.

To prevent the Russians gaining any possible control over a new Saab-Spyker venture the government handed their findings over to the FBI.

The US government reacted quickly to the report and reported to have given the board of General Motors a direct order to stop the deal, which happened on December 18th.

Hans Lindblad, state secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Finance, confirmed the course of events to the newspaper.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:51 March 4, 2010 by misssh
I really cant stand America and i hope it comes crashing down in a big heap and they lose all power some day soon.

To be honest they are the biggest corrupt nation on this planet!
13:46 March 4, 2010 by repat_xpat
Every prison inmate claims to be innocent. Whey would Victor Antonov be any different.

Do you find it interesting that Victor Antonov said "Spyker would struggle to raise the funds to complete the deal" and "If I am not allowed to then Victor (Muller) could be in a tough situation"?

Antonov is correct about GM not wanting some folks to get a hold of its technology in the new 9-5 (as I highlighted before)


A heart so full of love for your fellow humans. I'm glad America doesn't feel the same way about Sweden & SAAB. Do you not read that it was the Swedish government (Sapo) that tipped off the FBI about this guy's shady past? Does your love extend to Sweden as well? If you get your wish, there will be no hope for SAAB. Over 50% of its sales are in America.
15:09 March 4, 2010 by jose_s

with an attitude like that you are no better than those corrupt american politicians and businessmen. america used to stand for something, but over the years those "put" in charge have made a pretty good job of f'n that up. They think they have the option to elect and make decisions for their country but that is a sad lie. If america or any other country with honest hard working people was to be wiped off it would be a tragedy, regardless of their corrupt officials. Countries that allow america to shove their red white and blue cock up their ass have only themselves to blame. If their own leaders stood up for their people the US would start to lose that powerhouse title. Take your bull- and send it to whatever politician that you voted for, that has and keeps allowing the americans to screw you...
20:45 March 4, 2010 by Buccaneer
@ misssh

"I really cant stand America and i hope it comes crashing down in a big heap and they lose all power some day soon.

To be honest they are the biggest corrupt nation on this planet!

put it this way if America was wiped of the face of this planet i would not wink a eye."

It is your type that go out of their way to kill people in the name of religion or idealogy. Note that I did not say innocent people because you do not have the right to kiil anyone or wish anyone death. You are either a sore loser or you are mentally challenged. I will suggest you check yourself into a good mental hospital.

On a second note, SAAB goes under the the ownership of organised crime. Interesting.
02:05 March 5, 2010 by volvoman9
Really boys, One would have to live a fairytale existence to imagine that a person who has amassed this much wealth has done so without ever crossing paths with some shady characters. So what!? A truly wonderful automotive brand may be saved. This is a victory. Anyone who reads will know that organized crime is rampant in the former Soviet Union. This is no surprise in a nation only recently introduced to capitalism after so many years of oppression.

It is, however, true that the U.S. is still lamenting the end of the cold war and many of it's low brow inhabitants would love to crank up the tension again. This very vocal minority has been afforded a voice in the U.S. of late and are very scary indeed. The government of America no longer has two parties but instead two arms of a corporate juggernaut. Americans as a whole are not your enemy; instead it is the corporate world. All of it. Regardless of it's nationality. There are a great many Americans such as myself who are truly ashamed and humiliated by the behavior of our government but annihilation is not the answer. We need to cut the legs from under the beast. All of us.
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