Exiled Russian banker gets asylum in UK

MOSCOW Fri Mar 1, 2013 4:46pm GMT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The former head of Russia's fifth largest bank, whose takeover by state-owned VTB led to the country's largest ever bailout, has been given political asylum in Britain.

Andrey Borodin, who fled Russia in March 2011, told a Russian newspaper his application for asylum had been granted in Britain after an application by his lawyers on the grounds that he faced political persecution in Russia.

In comments to the Vedomosti financial daily, Borodin, 45, said: "Behind this persecution stand the interests of politicians, including former President Dmitry Medvedev."

The British Home Office, or interior ministry, declined to comment on the matter.

Borodin was ousted as chief executive of Bank of Moscow at the height of a hostile takeover bid by VTB. Bad loans uncovered as a result of the deal forced the central bank to pump in $14 billion (9 billion pounds) to stabilise the situation.

While Borodin has alleged that fraud charges were levelled against him in Russia for political reasons, sceptics have questioned his version of events and argue that he has a case to answer.

Borodin, speaking to Reuters in August 2011, rebutted the fraud allegations. He admitted the bank had lent money to businesses that were controlled by its management, but had done so "according to corporate policy" and central bank regulators were informed.

The spokeswoman for Medvedev, now Russia's prime minister, also rebutted Borodin's claims in comments to Vedomosti.

"The charges against Borodin are straightforwardly criminal in nature," Natalya Timakova told Vedomosti, noting that Borodin was being sought by Interpol on suspicion of fraud.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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