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Crisis for Hearts as owner Romanov sees his Lithuanian bank slide into administration

Published 12/02/2013 | 14:25

Lithuania's central bank swooped on its fourth biggest bank Ukio Bankas today, deepening the woes of main shareholder Vladimir Romanov, the owner of Scottish soccer club Hearts.

The central bank has said it aims to make sure the banking system, victim of several post-Soviet crises, is as sound as possible and in late 2011 closed down another bank, Snoras.

This time, it said in a statement, it had found too much risk taking and not enough effort to provide financial certainty at Ukio, which is controlled by Romanov.

"Deficiencies in the bank's operation and violations of legal acts have been established more than once," the central bank said in its statement.

The central bank also appointed a temporary administrator to run the bank while it found a solution for its future.

Ukio has been under the eye of the central bank for several months and was the object of a central bank inspection in December and January.

Last December Hearts were hit by a transfer ban after failing to pay bonuses to their squad. Fans have set up a foundation to try and save the cash-strapped and heavily indebted club and have asked Romanov to let them take it over.

The central bank said Ukio had deposits of 3.4 billion Lithuanian litas, making it the fourth biggest deposit taker after the local subdiaries of Scandinavian groups SEB, Swedbank and DNB as January 1.

By assets, the bank was the sixth largest.

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