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Orient Express Bank's new owner makes another loss claim against Baring Vostok

Finvision Holdings Ltd., a company owned by Russian businessman Artem Avetisyan, who currently controls Public Stock Co. Orient Express Bank with his business partners, wants Baring Vostok Capital Partners Ltd. to compensate it for losses related to the operations of the bank, RBC reported Aug. 2.

Finvision wants to retrieve 12.6 billion Russian rubles from Evison Holdings, through which Baring Vostok owns its 41.6% stake in Orient Express, and could launch court proceedings in Russia if its financial demands are not met.

Finvision argued in a pretrial document it sent to Evison Holdings that the company violated a shareholders agreement concluded ahead of the 2017 merger of Orient Express and Uniastrum Bank, which was owned by Avetisyan at the time.

According to Finvision, Evison provided incorrect information prior to the merger regarding the quality of Orient Express Bank's consumer loan portfolio, which negatively influenced the size of Finvision's stake in the merged lender and resulted in the need for setting aside additional loan loss provisions at a later stage. Avetisyan's company also questioned several corporate loans issued by Orient Express, noting that they were of poor quality and were provided without its consent.

Baring Vostok referred to the claims as "unfounded," adding that they constitute an attempt by Finvision to bring control of the lender to 100%, RBC noted.

Baring Vostok and Evison lost control of Orient Express in June after transferring a 9.99% stake in the lender to Finvision, as ordered by court. At the initiative of the new majority shareholder, the lender recently launched separate proceedings to recover 9.8 billion rubles worth of losses it allegedly incurred at the time when it was controlled by Evison, with the total value of claims made by Avetisyan against Baring Vostok now exceeding 22 billion rubles, RBC noted.

The ongoing shareholders' dispute over the control of Orient Express Bank resulted in the February arrest of Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey and several other executives over the alleged embezzlement of 2.5 billion rubles from the bank. Calvey, who denies any wrongdoing, was released from pretrial detention in April and is currently under house arrest.

As of Aug. 2, US$1 was equivalent to 65.33 Russian rubles.