English court orders worldwide arrest of assets of Privatbank ex-owners Kolomoiskyi and Bogolyubov

Ihor Kolomoiskyi (left) and Hennadiy Bogolyubov (right), the former owners of Privatbank. Photo: epravda.com.ua  

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The High Court of England issued an order for the worldwide arrest of assets of Ukrainian oligarchs Ihor Kolomoiskyi and Hennadiy Bogolyubov, as well as six companies that are likely to be owned or controlled by them. This information comes from the press service of Privatbank, the Ukrainian outlet Ekonomichna Pravda reported.

According to the report, Privatbank has commenced legal proceedings in the High Court of London against its former owners and executives – Ihor Kolomoiskyi and Gennady Bogolyubov.

“On 19 December 2017, the English High Court granted a worldwide freezing order against Messrs Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, as well as against six companies they are believed to own or control,” the report says. It details that the $2.5 bn freezing order was granted on the basis of evidence that Kolomoiskyi and Bogolyubov extracted “almost $2 bn from the bank through a particular series of dishonest transactions, which had the effect of transferring the funds to companies that they secretly owned or controlled.”

Privatbank is now seeking to recover over $2.5 bn, taking interest into account.

Privatbank was Ukraine’s largest commercial bank until it was nationalized one year ago, during the night of 19-20 December. Dangerously low levels of capitalization were given as the reason, with an estimated $5.6 bn lacking by 1 September 2016. Then, Kolomoyskyi and Boholyubov were accused of “vacuuming up” the savings of ordinary Ukrainians and using them as collateral to obtain loans for themselves and closely related parties. BNE Intellinews reported that 97% of the bank’s loans were made to shell companies, many of them offshore, believed to be owned by the bank’s owners.  The money that left Privatbank was transferred overseas with the help of correspondent banks Austria and Luxembourg, as well as intermediaries in Cyprus and shell companies in the UK.  Additionally, the outlet Ukrayinska Pravda wrote about its suspicions of a shady deal between the bank’s stakeholders and the government.

After the nationalization, the bank was recapitalized by $5 bn from the state budget. The Ukrainian state via Privatbank appealed to the London court in order to return the withdrawn funds and repay the bank’s unfulfilled obligations on refinancing.

According to the Ukrainian outlet DT.UA relying on its sources, Privatbank appealed to the High Court to the property owned by the former owners of the bank in the amount of $3 bn while the case is being considered.

The relevant list of assets was provided to judges in the hearings on taking provisional measures.

Privatbank is represented in court by the company Hogan Lovells.

To date, about 400 court cases related to the nationalization of Privatbank are ongoing in Ukraine, and it appears the state has significant problems.

The owners of Privatbank Eurobonds demanded early repayment of securities at $335 mn. Hennadiy Bogolyubov demanded the Ukrainian government compensate him for the loss of his share in the bank, while Ihor Kolomoiskyi appealed against the recognition of the bank’s insolvency and the nationalization itself.

In 2015, the bank’s owners Kolomoyskyi and Bogolyubov were among the five richest and most influential Ukrainians.

/based on reporting by Ekonomichna Pravda

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