Prague, July 21 (CTK) – The Czech central bank (CNB) has filed a legal complaint against the financial management of the Russian ERB bank, owned by billionaire Roman Popov, and the corruption police are investigating the case on suspicion of siphoning off money from it, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday.
ERB, originally known as the European-Russian Bank, was established to fund Czech-Russian trade. However, according to financial market insiders, it primarily served as the source of finances for Popov and his influential countrymen.
Part of the finances from the bank disappeared some time ago and this is why the corruption police squad is looking into the case on suspicion that Popov has siphoned off money from his own bank, MfD writes, referring to a trustworthy source, well-versed in the situation of ERB.
Corruption police spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej and Marek Bodlak, head of the serious economic and financial crime section of the Prague High State Attorney’s Office, refused to confirm the information.
CNB Governor Jiri Rusnok said he would not comment on the bank’s legal complaint, MfD adds.
Money was flowing from the ERB bank through bonds, mostly fictitious ones, a well-informed source told MfD.
The money that the bank paid for the bonds was allegedly sent via Austria to some tax havens. The Finance Ministry’s financial analytical section is searching for it, MfD adds.
The ERB bank has not answered MfD’s questions about its financial management.
It says on its website it is in a “good condition” and that the articles published on it in the Czech press are part of “the anti-Russian rhetoric that has long been used in the EU countries and partially also in the Czech Republic,” LN writes.
The ERB bank focuses mainly on the funding of Czech export to Russia, but it also offers standard banking services. It has branches in Prague and Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia.
In the spring, CNB banned ERB from offering loans and taking deposits from the public.
There are 45 banks or foreign bank branches and 11 credit unions in the Czech Republic now, according to the CNB data. Apart from ERB, Sberbank and Expobank have Russian owners, MfD says.
It points out that no bank has collapsed in the Czech Republic for 13 years and Czech financial institutions managed the world financial crisis in 2008 and its consequences quite well.