Vancouver mining company CEO linked to Thai bank collapse
The chief executive officer of a Vancouver-based junior mining company that is closely associated with Vancouver mining magnate Frank Giustra has been accused by the Thai government of plundering millions of dollars from the now-defunct Bangkok Bank of Commerce, according to documents obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
Andre Agapov, a Russian national who is now living in London, is CEO and a director of Rusoro Mining Ltd., which is based in Vancouver and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange.
In a request for assistance issued to the U.S. government in March 2002, Thai authorities named Agapov as a co-conspirator along with Krekkiat Jalichan, the bank's former managing director, and Jalichan's former adviser, Rakesh Saxena, as well as numerous others, in a scheme to defraud the Bangkok Bank of Commerce of hundreds of millions of dollars in the mid-1990s.
Giustra, who has become fabulously wealthy promoting mining deals throughout the world, and his right-hand man, Gordon Keep, have had a close business and financial relationship with Rusoro, initially through their publicly traded merchant-banking firm, Endeavour Financial Corp., and more recently through their private financial advisory firm, Fiore Capital Corp. In an interview this week, Keep said he became aware of the allegations against Agapov in a report done by a private investigation firm at the request of a U.S. investment banking company about three years ago. He said the report addressed the allegations, but because it is confidential, he declined to provide details. He said he also made other inquires, but once again declined to provide details. "The net result is that I felt comfortable dealing with Andre," he said, adding that, as far as he can determine, Agapov has acted appropriately as a senior officer and director of Rusoro.
Giustra declined to discuss the matter.
Thailand's current position with respect to its charges against Agapov is not clear. Several years have passed, and there have been frequent regime changes in Thailand. Agapov was out of the country last week and could not be reached for comment. It is clear, however, that Thailand has been pressing its cases against the other accused. Last September, Jalichan was convicted on corruption charges relating to the bank scandal and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Last week, he was convicted on more charges and handed an additional 20-year sentence. At least four other people implicated in the scandal have also been imprisoned.