ITWASSOOTED: Zio Pirates Ripping Off Banks=Taxpayers All Over World

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zio Pirates Ripping Off Banks=Taxpayers All Over World

Russian tycoon 'had RBS loan of £2.5bn written off'

A £2.5 billion loan said to have been given to a Russian oligarch by a British bank and then written off is an example of the alleged practices perpetrated by this country's major lenders which have prompted a surge of political anger.

ABN Amro, a Dutch bank owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), apparently lent Leonid Blavatnik the money to help shore up the finances of his troubled chemicals company LyondellBasell.

RBS is just one of the British banks being scrutinised by Government officials, alongside Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays, after lending to foreign nationals left them facing multi-billion pound losses which require another taxpayer funded bail-out.

Officials have discovered that the banks made the majority of their loans overseas, sometimes to companies and individuals whose ability to repay their debts was highly questionable.

In some cases, only 20 per cent of bank lending was British-based, with the rest going abroad.

The past lending practices of RBS – of which the taxpayer now holds a majority share – have emerged as a particular concern.

Senior Government figures are said to have been infuriated to learn that RBS was part of a group of banks that offered a £2.8billion loan to a firm owned by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who last year hosted both Peter Mandelson and George Osborne on holiday in Corfu.

The apparent loan to Mr Blavatnik has now brought the 51-year-old, who divides his time between America, Russia and Britain – where he resides in a £41million home in Kensington Palace Gardens –into the spotlight.

Raised in a Jewish household, he moved from Russia to America at the age of 21 to find a new life, earning an MBA from Harvard. He regularly returned to Russia for business and founded Access Industries in 1986, making his fortune in chemicals and natural resources, including oil, aluminium and coal.

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