Grant Thornton is set to earn millions through its work on behalf of a consortium of Russian financial institutions, in carrying out bankruptcy proceedings against billionaire banker Anatoly Motylev.
The accountancy giant could earn as much as £10m in fees, which will be paid for out of any recovered assets, after the High Court put Grant Thornton in charge of recovering the Russian banker’s UK assets.
The case comes after a Russian court found the oligarch responsible for more than £2bn in debts to creditors, following the collapse of his Rossiysky Kredit Bank in 2015.
Rossiysky Kredit Bank’s bankruptcy came after the Central Bank of Russia withdrew its license on discovering a $1.5bn hole in the financier’s balance sheet.
In revoking Rossiysky Kredit’s license, Russian regulators said the bank had pursued a “high-risk credit policy” as it warned that the bank’s “failure to comply with federal laws” posed a “real threat to the interests of creditors and depositors.”
Russian courts later found Motylev personally responsible for debts linked to Rossiysky Kredit’s collapse, after the banker fled to the UK in 2015.
Grant Thornton is now seeking to recover £800m from the fugitive banker, after the High Court put the accountancy firm in charge of bankruptcy proceedings in 2020.
Claims on behalf of a consortium of Russian banks that were previously part of Motylev’s business empire account for around half of the £800m claims Grant Thornton is currently handling.
The claims on behalf of the collapsed banks are currently being managed by Russia’s state-controlled Deposit Insurance Agency, which is handling all bankruptcy proceedings in Russia.
Grant Thornton’s work on behalf of the Russian creditors has led to accusations the firm is continuing to work with Russian clients, after it vowed to cut its ties with Russian government linked entities in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
A Grant Thornton spokesperson said: “As and when distributions are available to creditors, the Trustees, as court appointed officers, will comply with the laws prevailing at that time, including those relating to recent sanctions.”
“We fully stand behind the statement on our website and reaffirm that we will not provide services to clients that are subject to sanctions, connected to the Russian government, the Belarusian government or those who support their activities.”
It is also believed that more than one million pensioners suffered significant financial losses after Motylev overpaid millions for plots of land in the Moscow suburbs. The land could now be worth less than half the sum the pension funds originally paid for it, analysts say.