Translated by Ollie Richardson
The High Court of London authorised the arrest of the assets of Igor Kolomoisky and other representatives of the leadership of the Ukrainian Privatbank for the sum of $2.5 billion. The oligarch quietly reacted to this decision, having called it temporary. According to experts, the main task of Kiev, which is a claimant in these judicial proceedings, is not the return of the capital at all, but Kolomoisky’s withdrawal from a game of politics in Ukraine.
The London court made a decision on the arrest of the assets of the former owners of Privatbank Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov.
“The High Court of London issued the order for the global arrest of the assets of Mr Kolomoisky, Mr Bogolyubov, and the others for the sum of more than $2.5 billion. PJSC ‘Privatbank’ initiated proceedings in the High Court of London against the former owners and heads,” it is reported in the press release of the bank.
In the resolution of the court it is reported that Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov illegally took out from the bank about $2 billion, which then transferred to companies that are under their control or in secret possession. The current management of the financial institution states that it intends to return this sum with interest.
The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine assessed the decision of the High Court of Justice positively.
“The Ministry of Finance welcomes this positive decision of the British court. Today the state has actually spent nearly 140 billion hryvnia ($5.02 billion) to recapitalise Privatbank, because of the fact that previously money was withdrawn from it or provided under-secured loans that nobody returned,” wrote the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Aleksandr Danilyuk on his page on Facebook.
Saving the economy and fraud
A year ago the government of Ukraine made the decision to nationalise the largest private bank in the country — Privatbank. As the Ukrainian government explained, this measure was necessary not only to save the institution itself, but also the entire financial system of the country. Thus, on December 22, 2016 the government of Ukraine has nationalized Privatbank. As the media reported, this operation cost every Ukrainian more than $100. After this, the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance made the decision to recapitalise Privatbank, because the financial institution can’t exist without basic assets. At the first stage it was planned to invest about $865 million.
As the chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeriya Gontareva later said, Privatbank may be again sold in the future. According to her estimates, it can happen no earlier than three years from the date of transition of the institution to the possession of the state.
Before nationalisation, fraudulent operations totalling $593 million were carried out in the banking structure. According to the materials of the case established in Ukraine, officials of Privatbank, having abused their position, during 2014 acquired someone else’s property, namely State funds of National Bank totalling more than 19 billion hryvnia (about $700 million), which were allocated for refinancing. And after the State made the decision on nationalisation, the management of Privatbank hurried to remove the maximum quantity of assets.
When the fraud was revealed, criminal proceedings were initiated in Ukraine. In September, 2017, the court made the decision to arrest the assets of Kolomoisky in the country. Then the building of the Biola plant in Dnepropetrovsk, a building in Kiev that was rented by the broadcasting company “Studio 1+1”, a Boeing plane, the grain “Boryvazh” terminal in the Odessa region, and some other buildings were taken into custody.
Because there was no progress in the claims submitted by the State inside the country, a decision was made to appeal to the International Court of Justice to recover the assets of the bank. As the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Aleksandr Danilyuk said, in local courts there are more than 360 lawsuits in the case of Privatbank.
The essence of Kolomoisky’s problems
The President of the Center of System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko commented on the situation surrounding the arrest of the assets of the Ukrainian oligarch. According to him, the political implication is, in this case, obvious.
“The fact that the money was being withdrawn, and that Kolomoisky, in fact, gave the State a dummy and received in exchange a very worthy sum was known long ago… Today’s problems of Kolomoysky arose because he started to finance the overthrow of Poroshenko,” explained the expert to RT.
According to him, the persecution of Kolomoisky is an attempt by Ukraine to protect the President and to reduce the level of influence of the oligarch in the political sphere.
“The State, protecting Poroshenko, decided to limit, first of all, the financial opportunities of Kolomoisky, and secondly, to distract him with another problem, so that he interferes in the political life of Ukraine less,” said Ishchenko.
As a reminder, the media repeatedly stated that the protest actions in the country that are led by the former governor of the Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili are financed from Kolomoisky’s assets. The campaign of the fight against corruption in the higher levels of power was initiated by the oligarch for the purpose of changing the government.
In particular, a month before Saakashvili organised the “Maidan of reforms” in Kiev, he was seen at a meeting with Kolomoisky in Switzerland.
Chances of a victory in court
After the decision of the London court to arrest the assets of the Ukrainian oligarch, Kolomoisky said that it is only a temporary measure.
“It is temporary arrest while the case is being considered in court,” said the Ukrainian businessman.
As Rostislav Ishchenko explained to RT, these measures are taken as collateral to the claim, i.e. it can’t be said that this is the final verdict. It is precisely for this reason that Kolomoisky so quietly reacted to the latest news.
“I think that he has rather good grounds to believe that he will really win, because both Ukraine and Poroshenko’s regime have established themselves as extremely corrupt structures. Political persecution in Ukraine became commonplace, the West ceased to close its eyes to it and openly says that corruption prospers in Ukraine,” said the expert.
This argument will be used by the oligarch to defend himself in court, assures the President of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Ishchenko. According to him, the oligarch will focus his attention on the fact that “the State took away Privatbank from him with the purpose of limiting his political opportunities in the country, and that the claim against him is also an element of political struggle”.
The expert concluded that taking into account the present reputation of Kiev in the international arena, Kolomoisky has every chance to win this process.
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