Published: 12 february 2013 14:02
BNS

Lithuanian central bank restricts operations of Ūkio Bankas and appoints temporary administrator

The central Bank of Lithuania on Tuesday restricted the operations of Ūkio Bankas, owned by businessman Vladimir Romanov. This is the second Lithuanian bank in the last eighteen months to have its operations restricted. Before, Snoras bank was nationalized in 2011, declared bankrupt soon afterwards and is now being liquidated.
Ūkio bankas
BFL / Ūkio bankas

Adomas Audickas has been appointed as temporary administrator of Ūkio Bankas. He is to make proposals on how to ensure that the bank meets its obligations to its creditors, the central bank said in a press release.

Ūkio Bankas' top executives and Romanov could not be reached for comment by BNS. Ūkio Bankas spokeswoman Auksė Armonaitė Glodienė has told BNS that the bank provides no comment at the moment.

"The decision of the board of the Bank of Lithuania to restrict the bank's operation was made after assessing the risky tendencies of Ūkio Bankas in recent years, actions of shareholders that were harmful to the bank, non-compliance with the instructions of the Supervision Service, and the consequent rising threat to the stable and reliable operation of the bank," the central bank said.

"The decision was approved once it was clear that the other statutory enforcement measures would not be sufficient in ensuring the security of the interests of depositors and the general public," it said.

Not another Snoras story

Stasys Kropas, the president of the Lithuanian Banks Association, expects that Ūkio Bankas will continue to operate.

"I hope that it (Ūkio Bankas) will continue its operations, in one form or another," he told BNS.

Kropas expects that Ūkio Bankas is not headed for the same fate as Snoras, which has been declared bankrupt and is now being liquidated.

"I think that Ūkio Bankas was in a different situation. It has some liquidity. Some steps need to be taken. There has been a lot of negative information about Ūkio Bankas lately. Undoubtedly, this has an effect on the bank's clients. It is not a surprise that there are liquidity problems. But I hope that the capital will be sufficient for it to continue operating following, let's say, a capital injection," he told BNS.

Trade in shares halted

The NASDAQ OMX Vilnius stock exchange on Tuesday suspended trading in shares of Vladimir Romanov-controlled Ūkio Bankas.

The bourse took the decision at the request of the central Bank of Lithuania.

Shares of Ūkio Bankas, quoted on the blue-chip Main List of the Vilnius bourse, last traded at 0.093 euros, up 5.68 percent from Monday's close.

Romanov owned 64.92 percent of shares in Ūkio Bankas on September 30, 2012, and First Partneriai held a 9.47-percent stake in the Kaunas-based bank.

Prosecutors suspect large-scale embezzlement

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office on Tuesday launched a pre-trial investigation into possible large-scale embezzlement of assets at Ūkio Bankas.

The pre-trial investigation was started based on information provided by the Bank of Lithuania about suspicious transactions concluded in 2005 through 2012 and revealed during an inspection, the office said.

It added that it has not yet submitted notifications of suspicions to any individuals.

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