Early this year the Vienna International Arbitral Centre adopted a decision by which a claim by the Austrian bank Meinl Bank AG against Bankas Snoras was dismissed. It thus recognized that a pledge agreement which Meinl and Snoras made in 2011 is to be deemed null and void under Austrian law. On the basis of that specific agreement, 11 million euros was appropriated from Bankas Snoras in September 2011.
Snoras bankruptcy administrator claims first victory in 11-million-euro legal battle with Meinl Bank
© DELFI (K.Čachovskio nuotr.)

The pledge agreement between Snoras, represented by Raimondas Baranauskas who is currently hiding in Russia, and Meinl Bank AG, was signed on 20 September 2011. By means of the agreement, the Lithuania-based bank guaranteed the repayment of a credit that a company associated with Snoras shareholder Vladimir Antonov had received from Meinl Bank. To fulfil its obligations under the agreement, Snoras transferred 11 million euros to an account at the Austrian bank. In December of that same year, Meinl Bank wrote off the full 11 million euros, as the company tied to V. Antonov had not met its obligations under the credit agreement.

"This is a very significant decision that essentially confirms the operation of a model for appropriating funds from Snoras in which foreign banks also took part. So far this is just a first step, but the process sets the stage for getting compensation from Meinl Bank for the damages suffered by Snoras," Snoras bankruptcy administrator Gintaras Adomonis noted.

The bankruptcy administrator for the bankrupt AB Bankas Snoras initiated litigation against Meinl Bank in Lithuania in 2015. The Austrian bank, seeking to complicate those proceedings, filed a claim against Snoras at the Vienna International Arbitral Centre, requesting recognition that the 11 million euros of Snoras funds were properly pledged to Meinl and that the bankruptcy administrator has no right to demand repayment of that money. On 21 January 2019, the Vienna International Arbitral Centre dismissed the claim and further declared that the pledge agreement between Bankas Snoras and Meinl Bank should be considered null and void under Austrian law.

Gintaras Adomonis hopes that the court of first instance will hear the case against Meinl Bank AG already this year. Besides that litigation, the bankruptcy administrator has also taken other legal actions seeking to recover the full 11-million-euro amount with interest from the Austrian bank

The interests of the bankrupt AB Bankas Snoras were represented at the Vienna International Arbitral Centre by the Lithuanian law firm TGS Baltic and the Austrian law firm Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtanwälte GmbH.

The operations of Bankas Snoras were suspended by a decision of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on 16 November 2011, the Bank of Lithuania on 24 November asked a court to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, and bankruptcy proceedings against Snoras were initiated on 7 December 2011.

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