MOSCOW, May 18 (RAPSI) – Rosbank board chairman Vladimir Golubkov, charged with bribery, has been put under house arrest until July 16 despite his plea to be released on 50-mln-ruble ($1.6 mln) bail.
Golubkov and his subordinate, Rosbank Senior Vice-President Tamara Polyanitsyna, were detained in a televised police raid on his office Wednesday.
Polyanitsina was also placed under house arrest Friday while her lawyer Ignat Yavorsky said she had admitted her accessory to the crime and testified against her boss when confronted by investigators with undisputable evidence.
According to investigators, Golubkov received a 5-million-ruble ($160,000) bribe as part of the $1.5 million the bank managers demanded from a commercial organization for extending a loan agreement and signing an additional agreement with a lower interest rate and monthly payments.
Golubkov, who is facing up to seven years in jail if convicted, has denied charges against him and said he was willing to cooperate with the investigation to prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, RAPSI has identified the owner of the business allegedly targeted by Rosbank managers – former State Duma lawmaker and rock musician Andrei Kovalev.
Kovalev claimed in a telephone conversation with RAPSI on Friday that Golubkov and Polyanitsyna threatened him with a takeover of his business during talks on loan extension when he said he was unable to pay the last installment of the bribe.
Russian banking community experts have expressed skepticism over bribery accusations brought against the head of Rosbank, saying that the “Golubkov case” could have grave repercussions for Russia’s banking industry as other faulty loan-takers may use the precedent to claim “unfair treatment” by bankers.
They also believe that Golubkov, a top banker with high salary and a family fortune estimated at $17 million, could hardly have a motive for bribery-taking.
Rosbank is one of Russia’s top three retail banks, servicing over 3 million private clients, according to the bank’s website. Golubkov, 48, has headed Rosbank since September 2008.
Rosbank is the Russian subsidiary of French banking giant Societe Generale, which acquired 20 percent minus one share of Rosbank in 2006 with an option to take control. In February 2008, Societe Generale exercised its option to gain a controlling stake in the bank and eventually consolidated its control to over 80 percent.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Societe Generale SA Chief Executive Frederic Oudea said the situation with Golubkov would not affect the French bank’s plans in Russia and Rosbank would remain one of its driving forces.