Russia

Russia’s VTB Capital has sued Mozambique to recover its share of defaulted debts at the heart of the impoverished African nation’s $2bn “tuna bond” scandal, the Financial Times reported. State-owned VTB is demanding repayment of a $535m loan, according to a lawsuit that it filed against the Mozambican government in London. In 2013 and 2014 Mozambique borrowed $1.4bn from VTB and Credit Suisse tied to maritime security projects, alongside a $850m bond it sold to investors for the financing of a tuna-fishing fleet.

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Russian state lender VTB has filed a lawsuit in Britain’s High Court against a Mozambican government company it lent hefty sums to as part of a project now at the center of a $2 billion debt scandal, according to an online court filing, Reuters reported. The filing, dated Dec. 23, names as defendants the Mozambique state and Mozambique Asset Management, which took a $535 million loan from VTB as part of a costly project that U.S. authorities say was an elaborate front for a bribery and kickback scheme.

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A Russian court in the city of Tyumen has declared the bankruptcy of Russia’s Antipinsky refinery, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, Reuters reported. The refinery, which has a capacity of 9 million tonnes per year, filed for bankruptcy in May after halting operations on several occasions due to a lack of funds to pay for crude oil deliveries. Read more

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An investment holding company linked to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg pledged to invest “as much money as necessary” in Schmolz + Bickenbach AG to avert a restructuring of the ailing Swiss steelmaker’s $800 million debt pile, Bloomberg News reported. Liwet Holding AG, which holds a 26.9% stake in Schmolz, said in a statement Sunday that the pledge is conditional on there being no change in control of the company.

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Bribe allegations leveled in court against a VTB Group executive may complicate the Russian state-owned bank’s attempts to recoup a $535 million loan that’s part of a major debt scandal in Mozambique, Bloomberg News reported. A New York court heard testimony last month that the VTB executive in charge of the deal, Makram Abboud, took $2 million in kickbacks. The bank denies the allegations, made by a former Credit Suisse Group AG banker at a criminal trial in which VTB isn’t a party, and its employee hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

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Sberbank and the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) have settled a dispute over funds owed to Russia’s largest bank by IBA, an Azeri and Sberbank officials said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. In 2017, state-run IBA proposed a plan to restructure $3.3 billion of its debt and said in July it had received approval from creditors holding 93.9% of the debt involved. As part of the restructuring, which was under Azeri law, IBA obtained a moratorium from a London court preventing creditors from taking action against it without court permission.

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The Russian central bank is set next year to slightly soften capital buffer requirements on banks that assess their own credit risk, deputy governor Vasily Pozdyshev told Reuters, in a bid to encourage more lenders to take up the practice, Reuters reported. The move comes as the Russian central bank presses for banks to conduct in-house risk assessments, saying it allows for better management of banks’ capital cushions and could cut the cost of borrowing.

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The head of Russia’s state bank VTB Andrei Kostin and Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi discussed plans to restructure Maputo’s debt, with the aim to conclude a deal by the year-end. Mozambique needs to restructure a $535 million state-backed loan to Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) arranged by VTB, Reuters reported. The meeting between Kostin and Nyusi was held on Tuesday, a VTB spokeswoman told Reuters. VTB said in a statement on Wednesday that Kostin told Nyusi that the Russian bank would like to agree on the debt restructure plan by the end of this year.

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Spain’s High Court will investigate allegations that Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman acted to depress the share price of DIA when trying to take control of the supermarket chain, a court document seen by Reuters showed, Reuters reported. Fridman’s LetterOne fund denied the allegations on Tuesday, saying in a statement they were “untrue and defamatory”. LetterOne rescued DIA from the brink of insolvency this year after the retailer’s market value fell by 90% in 2018 as it lost out to rising competition.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is facing questioning in Spain over allegations he illegally laid “economic siege” to an acquisition target while camouflaging his true role, according to court documents seen by the Financial Times. An anti-corruption prosecutor suspects Mr Fridman broke the country’s criminal code in 2016 in an attempt to take control of Zed World Wide, a Spanish mobile content and services business that later declared insolvency, the Financial Times reported.

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