Former Pompey chairman Vladimir Antonov to be extradited

Vladimir Antonov
Vladimir Antonov
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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Former Pompey chairman Vladimir Antonov will be extradited to Lithuania to face fraud charges, a court has ruled.

Antonov, 37, and his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas, 56, are suspected of stripping 470 million euros (£396 million) and 10 million US dollars-worth (£6 million) of assets and funds from the Lithuanian-based Snoras Bank.

District Judge John Zani, sitting at Westmister Magistrates’ Court today, ruled that the pair should be extradited to the country after concluding that they would receive a fair trial there and finding no evidence of risk to their human rights.

He said the men have seven days to appeal against the decision.

Antonov and Baranauskas are also alleged to have submitted false documents to the Lithuanian central bank to conceal their activity across 33 transfers between 2008 and 2011.

Lithuanian prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant for them in November 2011 after naming them as the main suspects in a pre-trial investigation.

The allegations resulted in Antonov’s assets being frozen, with the direct result that his company, Convers Sports Initiatives was placed in administration.

CSI was the parent company for Pompey, and the case led directly to the club being placed in administration for the second time in three seasons in early 2012.

Both Antonov and Baranauskas claim they are victims of a ‘politically motivated conspiracy’ to nationalise Snoras bank, where Antonov was a majority shareholder and which owned a stake in anti-conservative newspaper Lithuania Morning, the court previously heard.

But in his ruling, Judge Zani said there was ‘no convincing evidence that this request has been or is being pursued for any political purpose’.

Antonov’s Russian nationality was also not a factor in the case, the judge said, while ‘there has only been fleeting reference to the political leanings’ of either man.

Judge Zani said that if the men do not appeal against the decision, arrangements will be made for them to travel to Lithuania within 17 days.

The ruling follows 14 days of evidence last year in which London-based Antonov was described as the ‘primary mover’ in the fraud.