A Russian billionaire who purchased a Maltese passport, Boris Mints, has been ordered by the High Court in London not to dispose any of his €500 million in assets because of claims being made over monies owed by banks he owned.
The decision, taken by London’s High Court in July, barred the co-founder of Otkritie, which was Russia’s largest privately held bank by assets before its 2017 nationalisation, from disposing of assets.
Mr Mints is one of three Russians included on the so-called “Kremlin list” who all managed to obtain Maltese citizenship through the Individual Investor Programme in 2016.
Mr Mints sold his stake in Otkritie in 2013 to focus on his spin-off business O1, which specialised in property deals and private pension portfolios, but continued to deal heavily with the banks in the circle until their collapse.
The Russian central bank has spent nearly $50bn on bailing out Otkritie and two other top-10 lenders and now the High Court has frozen Mints’ assets to help compensate their losses from purchasing large amounts of assets belonging to O1 and Otkritie’s former owners, Otkritie Holding.
Otkritie was the biggest of several privately held banks that made up a group known as the Moscow “banking circle”. They used state support and related-party transactions to rapidly grow their balance sheet to “too big to fail” size before three of them collapsed within months of each other.
It is being alleged that O1 sold bonds to Otkritie and Rost in a “fraudulent scheme” to pay off its debt just days before the collapse.
According to the Financial Times, Mr Mints and his sons deny committing fraud and are contesting the allegations in arbitration proceedings scheduled to be heard next April in London.
Mr Mints left Russia for the UK last year after authorities there opened criminal proceedings against him, people close to the investigation told the FT.
The cash-for-passports scheme introduced by the government has been on the receiving end of scathing criticism by international bodies.