Poroshenko’s confusing bank raises questions and faces NBU scrutiny
That a major commercial bank here in Ukraine would choose to locate most of its ATMS throughout Roshen confectionery shops and factories might seem strange, but for International Investment Bank, or IIB — 60 percent owned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — that's where the confusion begins.
On its website, IIB says they provide a range of commercial banking services to private and business clients. They list 24 ATMS across the country, mostly in Kyivlocated Roshen chocolate shops (and one, strangely, at a Poroshenko-owned shipbuilding center).
But locating IIB customers, clients or anybody who knows much about the bank is a difficult task. Investment bankers in Kyiv say they don't have any dealings with the bank and don't seem sure what it's for.
One senior investment banker who asked not to be named because he's not authorized to speak with the press, simply said “this is the president's bank” and didn't elaborate.
The presidential administration did not respond to requests for comment.
Finding company filings and reports on the bank is equally difficult, although the company does disclose some information on its website, it isn't independently verifiable.
Youcontrol, an online service that aggregates official data from open government sources and court registries here in Ukraine, has almost no information on the bank, only that it has declared $9.7 million in authorized capital. At the same time, as of January 2018, NBU data shows that IIB has Hr 9.4 billion ($334.3 million) in declared assets.
Where this money comes from, who it belongs to and what it's being used for remains less clear.
In most categories related to the company's finances, Youcontrol reports that there is “no data in the public registers.”
IIB aren't forthcoming with extra information or explanations. In fact, they come across as evasive and secretive. Unlike most commercial and investment banks in Ukraine, IIB doesn't have a press service or public relations department. The bank declined multiple requests for an interview, nor did they reply to multiple official requests for comment. Some phone numbers on their website don't work and when an employee finally did answer she said the bank doesn't engage with media.
“We don't give comments or any information to the media,” she said, declining to give her name. “We suggest you use open data sources and media to find your information.”
The shroud of secrecy around IIB and the difficulty in obtaining information about the bank's clients, activities and purpose is fueling speculation that it's a pocket bank for Poroshenko and his closest confidants.
Now, it also seems to have attracted the scrutiny of the central bank.
On March 28, Ukrainian news magazine Novoe Vremya cited court documents when they reported that the National Bank of Ukraine had investigated the IIB and decided to fine them.
The amount of the fine and details of the alleged offense are not disclosed, but the NBU did say the IIB fine was justified, citing "violation of the principles of the rule of law, legality, validity and prudence."
IIB didn't take it lying down. They responded by launching a counter-action against the NBU.
Novoe Vremya reports that IIB filed the lawsuit against the NBU in Kyiv District Court to challenge the fine that same month, but since the spring there has been no update on the situation and practically no media coverage related to IIB.
Earlier this year, the NBU announced a plan to conduct a “sustainability assessment” or “stress test” of twenty-five Ukrainian banks that between them account for 93
People walk past the Roshen confectionary shop belonging to President Petro Poroshenko on Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv on Sept. 28. (Volodymyr Petrov)