If Lithuania rolls out the red carpet at the London fintech, the political sphere is wary of the links of the start-up with Russian interests.

Revolut is now a "real" bank. In Lithuania – where Fintech decided to apply for a license to offer its services throughout the European Union – the news did not go unnoticed.

A few days after announcing that it had received the green light from the banking gendarme, the fintech was opposed to its links with Russia and in particular those of its founder Nikolay Storonsky. Stasys Jakeliunas, who chairs the Finance and Budget Committee in the Lithuanian Parliament, seized at the end of December the Department of National Security (VSD) and the Criminal Investigation Service (FNNT) to shed light on society's links with the Russian neighbor. "Among the shareholders of the bank, we could find people related to Russian political interests.
Any bank, and especially those that innovate, must be viewed with caution and responsibility ", he argued in the Lithuanian press.

At the heart of the subject are the family ties of Nikolay Storonsky: he founded his neo-ban in London, but he was born in Moscow and his father – Nikolay Mironovich Storonsky – is Deputy Director General for Scientific Affairs at Gazprom. Capital ties between Finnish and Russian interests are also singled out. In addition to the shares held by Nikolay Storonsky, Yuri Milner – whose name has come back in the US press for his investments in Facebook and some closeness to the Kremlin – holds shares in fintech through his investment fund DST Global. The subject is not trivial in Lithuania, first because the history of the country is marked by conflicts with the Russian "Big Brother" but also because, in Lithuania, the latter is still regularly suspected of interference .

To extinguish the controversy

To extinguish the controversy, Nikolay Storonsky usually very discreet about his private life was explained in an open letter: "M
one's father is, actually, Ukrainian, he's a scientist, an engineer […] who works for the Promgaz research institute. […]. I have respect for the history of Lithuania and I understand that some people may have some concerns, even if they are unfounded. " If some MPs are worried, the Bank of Lithuania wants to be reassuring: "All the checkups agree that there is nothing to worry about. "

In this letter, Nikolay Storonsky claims that none of the investors in DST Global are Russian nationals and denies the rumor that Revolut's servers would allow the transfer of data to Russia: "We store all our data in the United Kingdom and the European Union in accordance with the regulations. " He slips a message to the Lithuanians, however: "My only fear now is that these alarmist campaigns are driving away foreign investors and potentially putting thousands of jobs at risk. "

Sharon Wajsbrot