London court freezes assets of Ukraine billionaire Igor Kolomoyskiy
By Agence France-Presse
Ukraine on Thursday welcomed a decision by a London court to freeze the assets of billionaire Igor Kolomoyskiy following a high-profile case that led to the state’s takeover of the country’s largest bank.
Kolomoyskiy, the ex-Soviet country’s second-richest man worth $1.3 billion according to Forbes’ 2016 ratings, was the owner of Ukraine’s largest lender PrivatBank.
The lender was nationalised last December after authorities blamed Kolomoyskiy and other PrivatBank owners for issuing bad loans to cronies and having insufficient capital to stay afloat.
“The ministry of finance of Ukraine welcomes the English High Court order on worldwide asset freezing against Kolomoyskiy and (Gennadiy) Bogolyubov, as well as against six companies they are believed to own or control,” the ministry said in statement on Thursday.
“The state has already spent almost 140 billion hryvnyas (around $5 billion) on recapitalisation of PrivatBank to cover the losses caused by the extraction of money from the bank and poorly secured loans given out before nationalisation,” it said.
“These 140 billion hryvnyas are the money of each Ukrainian citizen, each Ukrainian taxpayer and these funds must be returned to the state budget.”
Late on Wednesday, PrivatBank, which holds more than a third of Ukraine’s deposits and whose takeover by the state was welcomed by the West, said it had begun legal proceedings in the High Court in London against former owners Kolomoyskiy and Bogolyubov.
“The freezing order was granted on the basis of detailed evidence put to the court that Kolomoyskiy and Bogolyubov have extracted almost $2 billion from the bank through a particular series of dishonest transactions,” the lender said.
PrivatBank added that through the legal proceedings it was seeking to recover over $2.5 billion.
Kolomoyskiy, who has fought to challenge the nationalisation, stressed the ruling was a temporary measure.
“This is a temporary arrest for the time of the trial,” he told local media.