Kolo­moisky rails against Ukraine and Poroshenko

Kyiv Post - - National - BY BERMET TALANT [email protected]

On Nov. 23, the High Court of Lon­don will hold an­other hear­ing in the case of Ukraine’s largest bank, the state-owned Pri­vatBank, against its for­mer own­ers, bil­lion­aire oli­garchs Ihor Kolo­moisky and Gen­nadiy Bo­holyubov. The judge will de­liver a de­ci­sion on ju­ris­dic­tion in the case, a source close to the mat­ter told the Kyiv Post..

It is pos­si­ble that the court might de­cide that it can­not rule on the case since nei­ther of the oli­garchs is a res­i­dent of Eng­land. On Nov. 22, law­maker Ser­hii Leshchenko said — cit­ing his own sources — that the de­ci­sion had al­ready been made.

If the in­for­ma­tion is true, Kolo­moisky and Bo­holyubov can cel­e­brate: The case will be closed, their as­sets will be un­frozen, and the bank will not re­trieve bil­lions of dol­lars that the for­mer own­ers drained, cost­ing tax­pay­ers at least $5 bil­lion.

The Lon­don court’s de­ci­sion mir­rors a sim­i­lar ver­dict in an­other case against Bo­holyubov, who was sued by his for­mer busi­ness part­ner Vadim Shul­man. Shul­man claimed that the oli­garch had stolen over $500 mil­lion from him.

In Feb­ru­ary, a Lon­don court de­cided it didn’t have ju­ris­dic­tion over the case be­cause Bo­holyubov was not a res­i­dent of Eng­land at the time Shul­man filed the law­suit. In the court, the oli­garch said he had moved to Geneva circa end of 2016 where his long-time busi­ness part­ner Kolo­moisky had been liv­ing.

Sim­i­larly, Bo­holyubov and Kolo­moisky’s de­fense ar­gued that the two had not been res­i­dents in Eng­land be­fore the as­set freeze or­der of last De­cem­ber.

But oli­garchs' le­gal bat­tles with Ukrainian state don’t end there.

Kolo­moisky is cur­rently lit­i­gat­ing against state oil and gas com­pany Naftogaz over rights on oil-ex­tract­ing com­pany Ukr­nafta.

Three Cyprus-reg­is­tered firms,, which be­long to the oli­garch and own a mi­nor­ity stake in Ukran­fta, filed a law­suit to the Stock­holm court against Naftogaz, the ma­jor­ity stake­holder, claim­ing $5.5 bil­lion in dam­ages for lost prof­its.

Naftogaz chair­man An­driy Kobolyev said that they were in talks with Kolo­moisky over a pos­si­ble di­vi­sion of Ukr­nafta's as­sets.

De­spite los­ing one of their largest as­sets, Pri­vatBank, to na­tion­al­iza­tion and uncer­tainty over the fu­ture of Ukr­nafta, Kolo­moisky and Bo­holyubov are still rich: The two were ranked No. 4 and No. 5 in the list of the wealth­i­est Ukraini­ans, with an es­ti­mated $1.6 bil­lion each. They con­trol a large num­ber of as­sets across in­dus­tries: from me­dia (1+1 tele­vi­sion chan­nel) and avi­a­tion (Ukraine In­ter­na­tional Air­lines, Wind Rose, In­ter­avia) to met­al­lurgy and fer­roal­loy plants in Dnipropetro­vsk oblast.

On up­com­ing elec­tions

The two oli­garchs rarely talk to jour­nal­ists. But Kolo­moisky re­cently sat down for an in­ter­view with Ukrainian jour­nal­ist Sonya Koshk­ina, co-founder of the Levyi Bereg web­site. The in­ter­view was filmed in Her­zliya, a city on the cen­tral coast of Is­rael, where the oli­garch lives now, and posted on Koshk­ina’s YouTube chan­nel on Nov. 20.

In the video, Kolo­moisky said that the last time he was in Ukraine was in June 2017, and he wouldn’t re­turn un­til a new pres­i­dent is elected in March 2019. “Only five months left,” he said. When Koshk­ina sug­gested that Poroshenko might be re-elected for a sec­ond term next year, he ex­claimed: “This can’t be pos­si­ble!”

“If it hap­pens I will say that I don’t un­der­stand any­thing at all and will re­tire. Poroshenko has a thou­sand and one rea­son not to be­come the pres­i­dent again,” he said. “He likes to make a storm in a glass of wa­ter out of nowhere. Why do we need these stresses? If he is elected for an­other five years, we’ll need to change the strat­egy.”

Kolo­moisky called the leader of Batkivshchyna po­lit­i­cal party, Yu­lia Ty­moshenko, the fa­vorite for the pres­i­den­tial race. The ques­tion is who will face her in the runoff elec­tion. The oli­garch bets on com­edy ac­tor Volodymyr Ze­len­sky, who has not de­clared his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions yet, but has suc­cess­fully played the Ukrainian pres­i­dent on tele­vi­sion.

Ukrainian me­dia have sug­gested that Kolo­moisky backs Ze­len­sky’s can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent, and that the co­me­dian's of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment will come any day. Ze­len­sky’s hit com­edy show, Ser­vant of the Peo­ple, airs on 1+1 tele­vi­sion chan­nel, which be­longs to the oli­garch.

Kolo­moisky pre­dicts for­mer De­fende Min­is­ter Ana­toliy Gryt­senko will fin­ish in third place in the elec­tions.

“If (Okean Elzy front­man Svy­atoslav) Vakarchuk runs for pres­i­dent, he will reshuf­fle the deck,” he said. “I have a very pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards him.”

On Poroshenko

Kolo­moisky doesn’t mince his words when he talks about Poroshenko’s pres­i­dency and why it should end.

“I don’t want to judge his per­sonal qual­i­ties but I would de­scribe his pres­i­dency with two words: To­tal amoral­ity. He tries to take ad­van­tage of any event to turn it in favour of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. When his rat­ing be­gan to de­cline, he sud­denly de­cided to go af­ter Tomos.”

Tomos is the of­fi­cial doc­u­ment that con­firms the in­de­pen­dence of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church from the Rus­sian Or­tho­dox Church. In Oc­to­ber, the Ec­u­men­ti­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate of Con­stantino­ple granted the de­ci­sion to cre­ate a united in­de­pen­dent Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church. The Tomos that ce­ments the his­toric event is ex­pected to be is­sued in De­cem­ber.

“I like that Ukraine gets Tomos,” said Kolo­moisky, who con­sid­ers him­self an ob­ser­vant Jew and says he doesn’t take busi­ness calls on Satur­days.

“But I don’t like when re­li­gion is used for po­lit­i­cal gains be­cause then we are not dif­fer­ent from our eastern neigh­bor where you can’t tell the pres­i­dent from the pa­tri­arch,” he said, re­fer­ring to Rus­sia where the Or­tho­dox Pa­tri­arch Kir­ill is viewed as ex­tremely close to Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

On Pri­vatBank and IMF

Kolo­moisky called the na­tion­al­iza­tion of Pri­vatBank in De­cem­ber 2016 “an il­le­gal seizure of prop­erty with­out court or­der and com­pen­sa­tion.”

“It wasn’t some plant that we had pri­va­tized. It was a won­der­ful au­dited bank that we es­tab­lished our­selves. The rest is in­sin­u­a­tions.”

He be­lieves it was a col­lu­sion be­tween Poroshenko, for­mer head of the Na­tional Bank Va­leriya Gontareva, and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. The in­ter­na­tional lender pres­sured the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment to na­tion­al­ize Pri­vatBank, the largest in the coun­try, be­cause it was marred by in­sider loans and fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions of $5.5 bil­lion over the course of many years, as foren­sic au­di­tor Kroll un­cov­ered.

Kolo­moisky hates the IMF call­ing it “a ther­apy for drug ad­dicts that keeps them alive but doesn’t re­vive or heal them.”

“The coun­try has been robbed un­der the pa­tron­age of the IMF and for­eign em­bassies. De­fault hasn’t hurt any­one. You speak about de­fault as if it means los­ing the state. De­fault would re­fresh us. Look at Greece!”

A year af­ter the na­tion­al­iza­tion, in De­cem­ber 2017, the High Court in Lon­don or­dered to freeze more than $2.5 bil­lion in as­sets be­long­ing to Kolo­moisky and Bo­golyubov.

The court left the two for­mer Pri­vatBank own­ers with a weekly al­lowance of 20,000 Bri­tish pounds.

“I’m okay with it (the freez­ing or­der),” said Kolo­moisky in an in­ter­view pub­lished on Nov. 20. “There’s noth­ing ter­ri­ble about it. We’ll sur­vive.”

Ukrainian bil­lion­aire oli­garch Ihor Kolo­moisky is filmed dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Dnipro on Sept. 27, 2014, dur­ing his ten­ure as the gover­nor of Dnipropetro­vsk Oblast. Kolo­moisky says he hasn't been to Ukraine since 2017. He says that if he comes to Ukraine, au­thor­i­ties might not let him leave again. (UNIAN)

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