Tycoon blasts Kiev over bank nationalization
The owner of Ukraine’s largest bank nationalized last weekend accused the authorities yesterday of spreading false rumors about his lender that forced him to appeal for help. Billionaire Igor Kolomoyskiy said in his first published comments since Sunday’s takeover of PrivatBank that Kiev officials falsely blamed him for issuing bad loans to cronies and having insufficient capital to stay afloat. The finance ministry’s decision to put its own administrators at a bank holding more than one-third of Ukraine’s deposits was welcomed by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union as a stabilizing step.
The lender required years of state assistance and was viewed as too big to fail because its fall could have created a domino effect that would have frozen the pro-Western former Soviet republic’s financial system. “PrivatBank became the victim of the arbitrary rule of the central bank,” Kolomoyskiy told Friday’s edition of Ukraine’s 112.ua news site. “PrivatBank had a balanced, secured loan portfolio that was confirmed by international auditors. However, the central bank, by constantly changing its own regulations, kept making up new ways of artificially lowering (PrivatBank’s) capitalization.”
Ukraine’s central bank chief Valeria Gontareva had said that 97 percent of the PrivatBank’s loans were issued by Kolomoyskiy to his business partners who might either have not paid them back or had done so on preferential conditions. She added that the bank’s debts grew to $5.6 billion by Dec 1. Kolomoyskiy called both charges a “myth”. “Normal central banks help lenders in tough times such as during economic crises or war,” the 53-yearold owner of not only banks but also numerous media outlets and even airlines and smelters said.
Perhaps one of the most important things missing from Kolomoyskiy’s statement was a declaration that he was joining the opposition to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The tycoon was one of the president’s first and biggest targets in Ukraine’s uphill struggle to tackle corruption. Kolomoyskiy withstood the attack and kept all his businesses. But he said yesterday that the prime minister and his team had “shown true bravery” in making the decision to place his bank under state administration when it was experiencing financial turmoil. He also admitted that he was the one who appealed to the government for salvation of his most prized asset. — AFP
KIEV: A client walks out as others arrive at a branch of PrivatBank in the center of the Ukrainian capital on Dec 19, 2016. —AFP