British court refuses to extradite former bank owner to Russia

Former co-owner of Trust Bank Ilya Yurov, who was placed on the international wanted list by Russia, will remain in the UK. The Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that extraditing him to Russia would constitute a human rights violation.

Ilya Yurov came to the UK from Russia after Trust Bank was reorganized in December 2014. In Russia he is accused of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. The Russian investigation believes that, between 2012-2014, he and several other of the bank’s senior managers withdrew the bank’s assets to offshore accounts in Cyprus, after which the money was transferred into the accounts of physical and legal entities controlled by the bank’s managers.

The judge declared that the Russian government would not be able to guarantee Yurov acceptable detention conditions if he were extradited. Furthermore, Yurov’s defense presented evidence of the “weakness of the Russian law enforcement system” and of the persecution of businessmen for political reasons, citing the Yukos case.

In a comment on the court’s decision, Yukov himself told Vedomosti that the court considered his prosecution “politically motivated” due to his connection to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Yurov previously worked for Khodorkovsky’s Menatep bank.

During the reorganization of Trust, the Central Bank of Russia said that there are signs that capital was withdrawn from the bank. The Russian regulator believes that the bank’s former owners used lending schemes with no real economic activity in order to do this. The Central Bank estimates that tens of billions of rubles are missing.

In February 2017, Vedomosti reported that Trust had filed a lawsuit at the London High Court of Justice concerning transfers made by the former bank owners Yurov, Fetisov and Belyaev to their wives’ accounts. The lawsuit showed that Yurov’s wife had used funds from an offshore account associated with Trust in order to buy the refurbished 16th century manor Oxney Court, three apartments in London, as well as property in Cyprus.

On February 3 this year, Yurov attended a meeting with Russian entrepreneurs’ ombudsman Boris Titov to discuss the possible return to Russia of a number of business owners who had fled due to criminal prosecution. The meeting resulted in the creation of the so-called “Titov’s List”, which was given to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  Britain, Russia, Titov's list, Trust bank, Central Bank of Russia, Central Bank of Russia