VTB Bank to be involved in trial over Russian family in Guatemala
MOSCOW, January 23 (RAPSI) - A court in Guatemala that is hearing a case of the the Bitkovs, a Russian family accused of fraud, agreed to subpoena VTB Bank in the case, since bank has filed financial claims against the couple, RIA Novosti reports on Friday, citing the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
Guatemalan prosecutors say the claim in question concerns a $6 million fraud charge after which the couple, Igor and Irina Bitkovs, left Russia. In 2009, they used false documents to obtain Guatemalan passports. Earlier it was reported that the investigation was centered on the couple’s alleged violation of immigration laws in Guatemala, specifically, the use of illegal residence documents. Local prosecutors were aware of the claim filed by VTB against the couple.
The judge ruled that Igor Bitkov be held in pre-trial detention. His wife, Irina, and daughter Anastasia will testify later as Anastasia is in a hospital accompanied by her mother.
A source close to the investigation in Russia told RIA Novosti that in 2006-2007 VTB issued a number of loans for a total of 1 billion rubles ($15.5 mln) to the Neman Cellulose and Paper Plant owned by Irina and Igor Bitkovs. Later the plant was declared bankrupt and a liquidation procedure began.
In August 2008, two weeks before the plant submitted its bankruptcy statement, the plant signed a purchase agreement with VILDA Consult to buy 100% of the registered capital in Vilda’s Svetoch for 3.7 billion rubles ($57.4 mln). In 2010, the deal was ruled invalid by the court and experts found evidence that the bankruptcy action was deliberate. All the decisions regarding the deal were made by the Bitkovs.