Ty­coon blasts Kiev over bank na­tion­al­iza­tion

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

KIEV:

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

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