Saab to build cars in Russia: Antonov

Spyker adviser Vladimir Antonov has said Saab is planning to build a new plant in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where it will produce 10,000 cars a year.

Saab to build cars in Russia: Antonov

The Russian banker and former Spyker stakeholder was forced out of Dutch luxury car maker Spyker in order to facilitate its purchase of Saab from General Motors after the US firm expressed doubts about his suitability as an owner.

But on Monday Antonov claimed that a memorandum of understanding would be signed within the next month paving the way for the manufacture of Saab cars in Kaliningrad, a small Russian enclave lodged between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea coast.

“Yes, it’s true that an agreement is in the works,” Antonov told Swedish news agency TT, refusing to elaborate further.

Designated as a special economic zone by Moscow, Kaliningrad offers lucrative tax incentives for manufacturers and is already home to Hummer and BMW production facilities.

Vladimir Antonov revealed at the beginning of March that he was working to clear his name and persuade General Motors that the allegations of money laundering and organised crime which have circulated around his business empire are unfounded.

Swedish media have reported that the Saab-Spyker deal was delayed in late 2009 as an investigation ordered by the Swedish government into the workings of Spyker and its Russian investors landed on the desk of the FBI and put a temporary stop to the takeover.

Though forced to step aside as a condition of the deal, Antonov said his banks had financed the first downpayment to GM.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.