Russian ex-banker Andrei Borodin wins asylum in UK

A Russian ex-banker who fled to London in 2011 after being accused of alleged fraud has been granted political asylum in the UK, the BBC has learnt.

Announcing the news earlier to a Moscow newspaper, Andrei Borodin said the legal case against him in Russia was politically motivated.

BBC News established Mr Borodin had indeed been granted asylum.

Russia's interior ministry says it will continue to seek the extradition of the former Bank of Moscow president.

He and another former official at the bank are both being sought by Russia over a 2010 criminal case involving a loan worth 12.8bn roubles ($419m; £276m; 319m euros).

An Interpol "red notice" has been posted for Mr Borodin, which states he is wanted by Russia for fraud.

In October, the Russian interior ministry said assets belonging to Mr Borodin and the other former official worth more than £265m had been frozen in bank accounts in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Andrei Borodin's successful claim is likely to cause new problems in the relationship between Moscow and London, reports the BBC's Daniel Sandford from Moscow.

The Kremlin has been infuriated by the way that several high-profile businessmen fleeing justice in Russia - like the billionaire Boris Berezovsky - have been granted political asylum in Britain, our correspondent notes.

'Politically driven'

Mr Borodin is perhaps best known in the UK for buying Britain's most expensive house in 2011, paying £140m for Park Place Estate, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.

Speaking to Vedomosti newspaper, he said he had been granted political asylum in the UK "a few days ago" after his lawyers submitted a request.

He accused Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was the country's president when the criminal case was launched, of being the "chief initiator of all this persecution and hounding".

Speaking later to BBC News, Mr Borodin accused the Kremlin of ordering his prosecution.

"At some point the Kremlin issued an order to the law enforcement agencies and they continue tirelessly working and executing this political order," he said.

Responding to news of Mr Borodin's case, Mr Medvedev's press secretary, Natalya Timakova, said the charges against the ex-banker were of an "ordinary criminal nature".

"The practice of obtaining political asylum, especially in England, has been reduced to having no regard for what the applicant has done..." she was quoted as saying by Russian media.

"The main thing is to cry political persecution as loud as possible."

Following Mr Borodin's departure from Russia, Bank of Moscow, the country's fifth-biggest bank, was given the biggest bailout in Russian history, worth $14bn.

Another bank, VTB, had gained control through a hostile bid, only to uncover bad loans valued at $9bn - a third of the bank's assets.

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