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Saab backer Antonov suspected of fraud

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Saab backer Antonov suspected of fraud
16:17 CET+01:00
Lithuanian prosecutors have issued a European arrest warrant for the Russian financier and Saab backer Vladimir Antonov on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

Antonov was involved in the financing which facilitated the takeover of Swedish carmaker Saab by Dutch firm Spyker.

According to Lithuanian authorities money allegedly embezzled from the Krajbanka bank was intended to buy a stake in the cash-strapped Swedish firm.

The head of the bank, Ivars Prieditis was arrested earlier on Wednesday on suspicion of plundering its reserves.

Krajbanka is a subsidiary of Vladimir Antonov's Snoras Bank which was taken over last week by Lithuanian authorities after suspicions emerged of accounting irregularities.

Vladimir Antonov remains an indirect financier of Saab Automobile.

According to his own information, he has provided loans of at least 800 million kronor ($116 million) to Saab CEO Victor Muller's company which is a major shareholder in Saab's parent company Swedish Automobile.

It remains unclear if either Soras or Krajbanka provided any of the funds for the investment.

Antonov's links to Saab, Spyker and Victor Muller have long been controversial.

A report to the Swedish government in December 2009, shortly before General Motors decided to close down Saab, city Antonov's long conflict with a senior person within the Bank of Russia and with the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The European Investment Bank (EIB) in July confirmed a loan to Saab, but only on the condition that Antonov was kept out of the firm.

There have also been reports that General Motors have blocked the Russian financier's involvement.

In April this year, the Swedish National Debt Office however decided that that there were no grounds to prevent Vladimir Antonov from becoming a Spyker shareholder.

The Debt Office conducted an inspection into Antonov's background following rumours of money laundering and contact with the mafia.

According to the Lithuanian authorities there is 1.3 billion kronor missing from Krajbanka and the bank is likely to fold.

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