LONDON, July 27 - RAPSI. The Westminster Magistrates Court in London will start hearing on January 21 Lithuania's extradition request for Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov and his Lithuanian partner Raimondas Baranauskas, who have been charged with defrauding Snoras bank.

An intermediary hearing will be held on October 10. Both defendants are allowed to attend.

On November 16, 2011, the Lithuanian government decided to nationalize Snoras to rescue the bank from bankruptcy. The formal reason was its failure to meet the watchdog's request for certain information in addition to its poor financial state. The bank was also suspected of illegal transactions. Snoras then suspended its operations.

The Bank of Lithuania later acknowledged that even a federal funds injection would not save the bank and decided to shut it down. The court declared Snoras bankrupt on December 7. The decision came into force on December 20, 2011.

Both major Snoras shareholders - Antonov and Baranauskas - have been suspected of embezzling the bank's assets and financial fraud. They were arrested in London in late November upon the Prosecutor General's Office's request. They were later released on bail.

A UK court has frozen Antonov's assets worth 493 million euro upon the Snoras bankruptcy administrator's request.

Antonov was unable to explain the disappearance of 4 billion litas (1.158 billion euro) from the bank.

Snoras was part of Antonov's Convers Group.

The Convers Group held 68.10 percent of shares in the bank and another 25.3 percent were held by Baranauskas.