Former Portsmouth FC owner, Vladimir Antonov, accused of £420m bank fraud

Mr Antonov claims he is the victim of an anti-Russian plot by the Lithuanian government and its banking authorities

The former owner of Portsmouth Football Club was the prime mover in a near €500m (£420m) fraud involving his former bank that led to its nationalisation and subsequent bankruptcy, a court has heard.

Russian Vladimir Antonov, 37, and his former business partner Raimondas Baranauskas, 55, are fighting extradition to Lithuania where they are accused of making 33 separate transfers from Snoras Bank to bank accounts they owned or controlled.

The last of the money transfers was made in 2011 as Mr Antonov took control of the south-coast club, described in court as an “economic basket case”. Mr Antonov ran the club for six months before he was forced to resign as he was pursued by Lithuanian prosecutors.

Mr Antonov claims he is the victim of an anti-Russian plot by the Lithuanian government and its banking authorities. He says the government wanted to nationalise the bank and shut down an anti-government newspaper that it part-owned.

Lawyers for the Lithuanian government described the claim as “manifest nonsense” and said the two men had stolen a “colossal amount of money”. “It’s a straightforward – albeit massive – case of alleged fraud of a major bank,” said John Hardy QC, for the government. “Almost half a billion in terms of funds and assets were taken out of it in the previous three years.”

Assets were transferred from Snoras accounts in Vienna to the two men’s Swiss bank accounts, the hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told. They are also accused of submitting false documents to the country’s central bank to cover up the transfers.

Authorities issued warrants for their arrests in November 2011 when Mr Antonov quit Portsmouth FC, citing “interference from the government in Lithuania”. “We say in reality, these extradition requests are a legitimate form of interference,” said Mr Hardy.

James Lewis QC, for Mr Antonov, said parliamentarians in Lithuania had questioned from the start whether the case had been designed to silence a critical voice in the media, and said the transferred money was still in the control of the bank and had not disappeared.

The men both face five charges  including fraud and theft in Lithuania with some charges carrying sentences of up to 10 years.

The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam