The Serbian Committee for Protection of Competition said today that it had given the green light to the Czech bank Expobank CZ to take over Marfin Bank in Serbia.
On 14th October, the Czech bank submitted its request for approval of the takeover of Marfin Bank. The owner of Expobank is the Russian businessman Igor Vladimirovich Kim and the bank itself has been in business since 1991.
The majority shareholder in Marfin Bank in Serbia is Cyprus Popular Bank, which HQ is in Cyprus. In Serbia, Marfin Bank has 18 branch offices and 289 employees.
Kim, who is not too keen to talk to the media, has been seen in Putin’s company on a few occasions. For years, he has been expanding his banking business. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked him 1,062 on the list of the wealthiest people in the world with Kim’s worth estimated to be around a billion dollars. Russian edition of Forbes placed him 93rd on the list of the richest people in Russia, while, in 2011, he was ranked 86th, with an estimated personal worth of a half a billion dollars.
Kim’s banks don’t have retail or corporate clients but only trade in securities. Hence, the speculations were rife that Kim’s business intentions are not clean and that he uses his banks to launder money.
Back in the day, he was also interested in purchasing Privredna Banka Beograd. The National Bank of Serbia found it strange that he was ready to pay a lot of money for the bank that was worth nothing because it was deep in debt and had nobody interested in buying it. In the end, the National Bank of Serbia revoked Privredna Banka’s operational licence in October 2013.
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