Saab backer Antonov held in London: report

Russian financier and once prospective buyer of cash-strapped Swedish carmaker Saab, Vladimir Antonov, as well as his Lithunainan business partner Raimondas Baranuskas, have been detained by regulators in London, according to news agency Reuters.

Saab backer Antonov held in London: report

“As far as I know, both Antonov and Baranauskas were detained,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis was quoted as saying by Baltic news agency BNS, reported news agency Reuters.

Officials said on Wednesday that the money allegedly embezzled from the bank was intended to buy a stake in the cash-strapped Swedish automaker.

The head of the bank, Ivars Prieditis was arrested 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.

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, a major shareholder in Saab’s parent company Swedish Automobile (SWAN).

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

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

The European Investment Bank (EIB) in July confirmed a loan to Saab, on the condition that Antonov was kept out of the firm and there have also been reports that GM blocked the Russian financier’s involvement.

In April this year, the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) however made the decision that that there were no grounds to prevent Antonov from becoming a Spyker shareholder.

However, neither the prosecutor’s office in London or police in Lithuania were able to confirm that it is indeed Antonov and Baranuskas that are being held.

The London police confirmed that two men had been detained under a Europe-wide arrest warrant, but declined to give their names.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.