Billionaire Boris Rotenberg loses court case against banks

The Finnish-Russian businessman, who is on US and EU sanctions lists for his close association with Vladimir Putin, argued that the banks had a legal obligation to give him financial services.

File photo of judge holding documents / Credit: iStock

Finnish-Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has lost a court case he brought against four Finnish banks.

Helsinki District Court dismissed the case against the banks, which hinged on whether they were legally obliged to extend banking services to him as a Finnish citizen.

In 2014, after Russia’s illegal invasion and occupation of Crimea, Rotenberg was among a number of Putin’s associates named on a sanctions list by the USA and European Union.

Rotenberg’s legal team had argued that the banks must offer him services under Finland’s Credit Institutions Act. However the court found that since he was not a resident of a state of the European Economic Area he was not legally entitled to banking services under the act.

The court ordered the billionaire to pay €530,000 in costs to Svenska Handelsbanken, Nordea Bank, OP Corporate Bank and Danske Bank Finland.

File picture of Finnish-Russian businessman Boris Rotenberg / Credit: Wikipedia

Who is Boris Rotenberg?

Boris Rotenberg is the billionaire co-owner of the SGM group, a Russian construction company that specialises in gas pipelines and electrical power lines.

But the oligarch businessman wasn’t always in the construction industry. He spent a decade involved in judo in Russia and trained alongside Vladimir Put.

He moved to Finland with his family in 1998 as Ingrian returnees, and worked as a professional judo trainer in Helsinki. When Rotenberg returned to St. Petersburg a few years later, he started SMP bank with his brother. The bank soon had more than 100 branches in dozens of Russian cities.

Rotenberg made money on construction deals ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and Reuters reports that Russian businessmen and officials close to Putin are alleged to have stolen up to €30 billion from Olympic funds. The Sochi games have been widely criticised for lack of financial transparency and apparent rampant corruption.

In spring 2013 Boris Rotenberg bought a major stake in Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena and Jokerit ice hockey team. His son Roman bought out his father and uncle’s share when they were added to the American sanctions list.