Collateral damage; Russia’s banks; Fallout from the rescue of one of the country’s biggest lenders highlights concerns about links between politics and state-controlled businesses – and about the vigour of financial oversight

By Catherine Belton and Neil Buckley, Financial Times

On a snowy Friday evening in late March, Andrei Borodin received a call as he flew out of Moscow on a private jet. Then president of Bank of Moscow, Russia’s fifth-biggest, he found himself under mounting pressure as VTB, the state-controlled lender that is Russia’s second biggest, tried to take over his bank. Just hours earlier, the government’s budget watchdog had called for his suspension while it audited what it be-lieved were “dubious” loans to entities re-lated to Bank of Moscow. Police were also investigating him separately over a property loan the bank had made.

“Someone called me and said that on Monday the Russian police will officially accuse me of abusing my authority,” says Mr Borodin. He never flew back; today he is in exile in an undisclosed location. Within months, Bank of Moscow – a quasi-sovereign lender with shareholders including Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse – was at the centre of one of the nation’s largest corporate scandals of recent years. To fill an alleged hole in its accounts far bigger than previously suspected, the government agreed in July to extend its largest-ever bank bail-out. At Rbs395bn, then worth $14bn, it was equivalent to 1 per cent of economic output.

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Andrey Borodin: Victim or perpetrator? The former top banker is at the centre of one of Russia’s biggest financial scandals

Florian Willershausen, Handelsblatt

London and Moscow

He is standing before the ruins of his life – and yet Andrey Borodin seems anything but resigned or downcast. … Borodin is fighting for his reputation as a successful top banker. Let’s not forget, he built up the Bank of Moscow to be the fifth largest bank in Russia within 15 years.

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The knowledge question: VTB and Bank of Moscow

Alastair Marsh, FT Tilt

VTB had full knowledge of the state of Bank of Moscow’s balance sheet before taking operational control of the bank, according to former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin.

In an interview with FT Tilt, Borodin said from the beginning of March VTB had full access to the capital city lender’s loan books and data room and was given an opportunity to sell out of the Moscow bank before consolidating a majority stake.

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Bank of Moscow bailout saved VTB – ex-CEO

By Douglas Busvine, Reuters

* Exiled former CEO defends lending practices

* Says VTB exaggerated bad loans at Bank of Moscow

* Loan that financed stake sale well secured – Borodin

MOSCOW, Aug 30 (Reuters) – The former head of Bank of Moscow MBMM.MM has denied defrauding Russia’s fifth-largest bank, saying the $14 billion bailout it received was in reality intended to save its suitor, state-controlled VTB (VTBR.MM).

Andrey Borodin dismissed allegations by VTB and the Russian authorities that he improperly lent billions of dollars to firms he controlled — loans that went bad after he was ousted, forcing the central bank to launch the record rescue last month.

Borodin, who fled Russia at the end of March and is wanted by a Moscow court on an international warrant, told Reuters that VTB had sought to depict Bank of Moscow’s financial condition in the worst possible light to conceal its own balance-sheet woes.

Read full article here.ReutersBusiness FM

Power Play in Russia

Finanz und Wirtschaft

The fate befalling the Bank of Moscow and its CEO Andrei Borodin, author of the adjacent article, is reminiscent of the plot in a bad Hollywood film. The details of what exactly transpired behind the scenes that led the 43-year-old Borodin, sought by the Russian authorities for mismanagement of the Bank of Moscow, to live in exile in London are unclear. “Finanz und Wirtschaft” attempts to trace the course of events. The Bank of Moscow founded in 1995 by the city of Moscow and its mayor Yuri Luzhkov, emerged as one of Russia’s top banks under the leadership of Borodin, a close confidante of Luzhkov. Even as the financial crisis unfolded, the bank maintained buoyant growth and enjoyed the confidence of many western investors. As a result, in July 2010 Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse jointly acquired a 6.6% holding of the bank’s shares. Everything was going smoothly.

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The Russian intrigue over control of banks; the mode and manner of the Bank of Moscow restructuring raises many questions

by Gerald Hosp, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Question marks still hang over the massive injection of government funds into the Russian Bank of Moscow. The former CEO is defending himself against allegations of credit fraud. The bailout is dragging down the reputation of the entire Russian banking sector.

In these times of financial and economic crisis, government support for a troubled bank is nothing extraordinary. Even so, the case of the financial injection for Russia’s Bank of Moscow (Bank Moskwy, BoM) is more illustrative of the moral condition of the country’s economic and political elite rather than action to restore a bank’s balance sheet. At the beginning of July, the Russian authorities assembled a 395 billion rouble rescue package to pull back the stricken BoM from the brink of bankruptcy. That marked the largest ever capital injection in the Russian banking industry. “The support package was not necessary. With the bailout, the stockholders of the institution were rescued, not the bank,” says Andrei Borodin, the bank’s former CEO, in an interview with this newspaper in an undisclosed location.

Borodin is defending himself against accusations that credit fraud took place under his watch. Russian officials have said that more than half of the institution’s credit portfolio was “in bad shape.” A large portion of this can be ascribed to companies linked to Borodin and other former BoM managers. Attempts were made to sell off assets pledged as collateral. A warrant was issued for Borodin’s arrest in connection with a loan to property firm. Since the end of March, Borodin has no longer been in Russia, and the banker is thought to be in London.

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Bank rescue with a question mark; accusations in the Bank of Moscow case

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

The effort to forestall the bankruptcy of the troubled Bank of Moscow became the largest rescue package in the brief history of the Russian banking sector. However, question marks hang over the rescue package launched in July. The state-owned VTB bank claims that the former managers are at fault. The former Bank of Moscow CEO is defending himself against allegations of credit fraud. The conflict lays bare the weakness in the overall Russian banking sector.

Ex-Bank of Moscow Chief Says VTB Bailout Takeover Is ‘Political’

By Maria Levitov and Henry Meyer, Bloomberg

The “political” takeover of Bank of Moscow by Russia’s state-owned VTB Group led to the biggest bank bailout in the country’s history to transfer government money to Bank of Moscow’s new shareholders, former chief executive officer Andrei Borodin and his representatives said.

“The criminal prosecution and takeover of Bank of Moscow are part of the same chain of the political decision to change shareholders at Bank of Moscow and to place it under government control,” Borodin said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

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Russian Banker Hits Back; Former President of Bailed-Out Bank of Moscow Says Lender’s Problems ‘Artificial’

by Guy Chazan and William Maudin, Wall Street Journal

The biggest bank bailout in Russian history was an “insane waste of money,” the bank’s embattled former president said in an interview.

Andrei Borodin, who fled Russia in March and is wanted by authorities there over a loan Bank of Moscow made under his leadership, said the bank “never needed state help.”

“The problems there are of an artificial nature,” he said.

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