Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth owner back in court over asset stripping of Lithuanian bank

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

The owner of Portsmouth Football Club and his business partner will have their extradition case heard next year.

Vladimir Antonov and Raimondas Baranauskas appeared in court earlier in connection with the alleged asset stripping of Snoras Bank in Lithuania.

The men were arrested in London last month after Lithuanian authorities issued extradition warrants.

Both were bailed by magistrates in Westminster with a preliminary hearing in March and a longer case in May.

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

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

Bank nationalised

The company has now entered administration and the 36-year-old has stepped down as Portsmouth chairman.

The club said in a statement recently that it is not in administration and "continues to trade".

Mr Antonov, of Ladbroke Square, Notting Hill, west London, owned 68% of Snoras while Mr Baranauskas, 53, who previously gave an address in Kent which was not read in open court, had a stake of just more than 25% before the bank was nationalised.

Lithuanian Mr Baranauskas 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.

Snoras went into temporary administration in November.

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.

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