Vladimir Antonov

A former owner of Portsmouth Football Club has been jailed for two-and-a-half years in Russia for bank fraud.

Vladimir Antonov was involved in a 150 million rouble (£1.75m) loan from Sovetsky bank to a front company, knowing that it would not be repaid, the court in St Petersburg heard.

Antonov, who pleaded guilty along with several co-defendants, was also fined 300,000 roubles (£3,500).

His lawyers said he would appeal against the “extremely cruel” sentence.

Antonov, who had no direct connection with the bank, received 15 million roubles (£175,000) from the unsecured loan in 2015, prosecutors said.

Asset-stripping

Sovetsky bank went into temporary administration in October of that year.

Antonov’s lawyer, Igor Reshetnikov, said his client had been given a harsh sentence despite doing a deal with prosecutors and surrendering properties by way of compensation for the crime.

“The sentence is extremely cruel in terms of punishment,” he said.

Antonov’s firm, Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), took over Portsmouth in June 2011.

Five months later he stepped down and CSI was placed into administration after he was arrested in London at the request of authorities in Lithuania.

The football club itself entered administration later that season, triggering a 10-point penalty and relegation from the Championship.

In 2015, Antonov left the UK after being charged by the Lithuanian authorities with stripping 470m euros (£396m) and $10m (£6m) from Snoras bank.

The following year, the High Court in London ruled that he owed a collapsed Latvian bank £65m after committing financial fraud.

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