MOSCOW, November 7 (RAPSI) - Pavel Skurikhin, founder and beneficiary of Siberian Agrarian Holding Group (SAHO), was found guilty of contempt of the High Court in London in absentia and sentenced to 16 months in prison, Kommersant reports on Friday.

According to the newspaper, Skurikhin ignored the court’s request to disclose his assets and attend a hearing for a $38.4 mn debt VTB lawsuit against him.

VTB claimed the debt through the UK court last February.

Several companies in the SAHO group received a loan for over 1.4 bn rubles ($29.8 mn) from VTB over 2007-2009. The money was supposed to be spent on developing the agricultural holding. However, in July 2010 the companies stopped repaying the VTB loan. Among other, the loans were secured by individual guarantees of SAHO founder and beneficiary Pavel Skurikhin.

It is not the first sentence in absentia for a similar offense. The 22-month sentence in absentia for former BTA Bank (Kazakhstan) president Mukhtar Ablyazov is perhaps the most widely known example.

Siberian Agrarian Holding Group (SAHO) is a large group of companies that operate in a variety of agricultural businesses including: pesticide production, grain production and processing, bread baking and the manufacture of baking equipment. SAHO also owns large tracts of agricultural land.