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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Ukraine tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky taken into custody over fraud allegations | Russia-Ukraine battle Information

A Ukrainian courtroom has positioned billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoisky beneath arrest for 2 months over fraud and cash laundering expenses as a part of the war-torn nation’s crackdown on corruption.

The courtroom on Saturday gave Kolomoisky the choice of posting bail of greater than 509 million hryvnias, equal to greater than $13m.

In an indirect reference to authorized proceedings in opposition to the enterprise magnate, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday thanked legislation enforcement our bodies for bringing long-running circumstances to justice.

“I thank Ukrainian legislation enforcement officers for his or her resolve in bringing to a simply consequence each one of many circumstances which were hindered for many years,” Zelenskyy mentioned in his nightly video deal with.

Al Jazeera Rob McBride, reporting from Kyiv, mentioned the courtroom’s choice has caught many individuals without warning.

“This has come as an enormous shock right here in Kyiv. There’s been rumblings of it on social media all day. Kolomoisky is one in every of Ukraine’s most high-profile, richest oligarchs within the nation. He was a supporter of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential bid again in 2019. He has been beneath US sanctions since 2021,” McBride mentioned.

“This comes amid a marketing campaign by the Ukrainian authorities to sort out corruption and to be seen to be tackling corruption. There’s a prevailing temper within the nation in the intervening time that the federal government is tackling corruption. Quite a lot of officers have been dismissed and in addition been prosecuted,” he added.

Oligarchs who amassed enormous fortunes

Early on Saturday, Ukraine’s important safety company, the Safety Service of Ukraine (SBU), named Kolomoisky as a suspect in a prison investigation.

“It was established that in 2013-2020, Ihor Kolomoisky legalised greater than half a billion hryvnias [$14m] by withdrawing them overseas and utilizing the infrastructure of banks beneath [his] management,” the SBU mentioned in an announcement.

Kolomoisky, who has beforehand denied allegations of wrongdoing, couldn’t be reached for remark.

The SBU revealed photos on the Telegram messaging app of a gaggle of detectives on the door of his residence, Kolomoisky being served paperwork and signing them.

The businessman is seen as one of many class of oligarchs who amassed enormous industrial wealth after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and who’ve wielded outsize political and financial affect.

Earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February final 12 months, Zelenskyy and his crew tried to clip their wings with laws requiring oligarchs to register and keep out of politics.

The battle has eroded their energy as profitable industrial belongings have been destroyed within the east and south, and their tv channels have been broadcasting beneath a centralised wartime sign.

Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption

Earlier than he received the presidency, Zelenskyy rose to prominence as a comic and performed the function of president on a present aired on a Kolomoisky-owned TV channel. He denies Kolomoisky has had any affect over his authorities.

Throughout the battle, Zelenskyy has been eager to emphasize Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption as Kyiv has utilized to affix the European Union. It hopes to safe tens of billions of {dollars} to assist rebuild the nation after 18 months of battle that has no finish in sight.

Two lawmakers – Yaroslav Zheleznyak and Iryna Gerashchenko – steered on Telegram that the transfer in opposition to Kolomoisky was aimed toward producing optimistic publicity amongst Ukraine’s international backers in addition to the general public at residence who’re bored with the battle and frightened about the issue of entrenched corruption.

The SBU’s announcement on Saturday is just not the primary wartime transfer involving Kolomoisky.

In November, the state took management of stakes in main strategic firms, a few of which have been related to him, invoking wartime legal guidelines to assist the battle effort.

This 12 months, safety officers searched Kolomoisky’s residence in reference to a separate investigation into embezzlement and tax evasion on the nation’s two largest oil firms, which have been partially owned by the businessman.

Kolomoisky is a former proprietor of main Ukrainian financial institution PrivatBank, which was nationalised in late 2016 as a part of a significant cleanup of the banking system.

He has owned an array of belongings within the power, banking and different sectors, together with one in every of Ukraine’s most influential tv channels.

The USA imposed sanctions on Kolomoisky in 2021 “as a result of his involvement in important corruption”. US authorities have additionally alleged Kolomoisky and a enterprise associate laundered stolen funds by means of the US. Kolomoisky has denied any wrongdoing.

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