Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Pompey owner Vladimir Antonov bailed in Snoras Bank asset-stripping case

Vladimir Antonov
Image caption Portsmouth Football Club owner Vladimir Antonov denies any wrongdoing

The owner of Portsmouth Football Club and his business partner have appeared in court in connection with the alleged asset stripping of a bank in Lithuania.

Prosecutors in the country want to question Vladimir Antonov and Raimondas Baranauskas as part of an investigation into claims involving Snoras Bank.

The men were arrested in London on Thursday after Lithuanian authorities issued extradition warrants.

Both were released by Westminster Magistrates' Court on conditional bail.

Russian Mr Antonov, 36, is the backer of Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) which owns Portsmouth FC.

Both are shareholders and former managers of the bank and deny any wrongdoing.

'Business as usual'

Mr Antonov, of Ladbroke Square, Notting Hill, west London, owned 68% of Snoras while Mr Baranauskas, 53, had a stake of just over 25% before the bank was nationalised.

Lithuanian Mr Baranauskas, who gave an address in Kent which was not read in open court, also held the posts of chairman of the bank board and president.

The men were arrested by City of London Police at Mr Antonov's offices in Bishopsgate, central London, on Thursday.

Portsmouth FC said its day-to-day operations would "carry on as normal".

Snoras went into temporary administration last week and on Tuesday Latvian authorities suspended the operations of another bank, Krajbanka.

Last week CSI released a statement which said: "In the light of the recent events at Snoras Bank, Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) would like to reassure its companies, staff, and the fans of its teams and events, that it remains very much business as usual."

In February 2010, Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to be placed into administration.

CSI completed its takeover of the Championship side in June 2011.

BBC South Today asked the Lithuanian prosecutors if their investigations into Snoras Bank would extend to CSI and Portsmouth Football Club.

In a statement they said they were investigating everything that might have links to criminal offences.

They added they would be taking "all the necessary steps" to freeze assets belonging to Mr Antonov and Mr Baranauskas.

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