Eight year cross-border investigation leads to £37million bank fraud trial

The former owner of Hearts FC is facing a trial for bank fraud despite a failed attempt to have him extradited.

Vladimir Romanov, Chairman of UBIG Investments, a majority shareholder of the Lithuanian bank, Ukio Bankas, is facing charges relating to a £37million fraud, alongside 11 other former banking officials.

Ukio Bankas was Hearts’ premier sponsor for the majority of Mr Romanov’s time at the club. However, despite being the fifth largest and oldest bank in Lithuania, it suffered a financial collapse in 2013, which was allegedly also linked to the financial difficulties experienced at Hearts FC.

The club was forced into administration and as a result was relegated from the Scottish Premiership.

According to the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s office, the pre-trial investigation was “exceptional in its complexity and scope”. He added that the trial is now likely to be long and “complicated”.

During the investigation, the Lithuanian authorities received assistance from police and forensic financial investigators in the UK, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, Bosnia, Italy, Belarus, Sweden and Russia.

In 2013, Russia admitted Mr Romanov into the country and attempts to have him extradited to face the charges in person have so far failed.

The 12 defendants also face charges of misconduct in a public office, money laundering and “setting up and directing illegal entities” in order to cover up any wrongdoing.

At Moore Thompson, we have a number of experts who are experienced in assisting with fraud issues. We use our expertise to uncover and follow financial trails to find original sources of funding.

We also look at a person’s lifestyle for clues, which may suggest that they have acquired wealth unlawfully, using all available evidence, from witness interviews to emails, as well as bank transaction records to uncover the truth.

Our experts are also able to provide robust reports and act as expert witnesses in court proceedings on issues where substantial assets are involved.

For more information on our forensic and expert witness services, please contact Ken Maggs on 01775 711333.