Credit scammer as Head of Office and pro-Russian Oblast Head among Zelenskyy’s appointments

Andriy Bohdan, a lawyer whom Zelenskyy appointed as Head of the President’s Administration despite him falling under the criteria for lustration, was the manager of a major credit scam, a Bihus investigation has revealed. Image: Euromaidan Press, based on idea by Bihus.info 

Politics

New facts about the fraudulent past of Andriy Bohdan, now head of the President’s Office, were presented in several journalist investigations by the Bihus.info project. Another journalist investigation by Skhemy discovered that some new heads of regional state administrations appointed by Zelenskyy are pro-Russian merchants related to the Russian-led separatists in Donbas.

Andriy Bohdan, the current head of The Office of the President of Ukraine, had managed credit scams and worked for a number of oligarchs

Claiming that he will fight corruption and launch proper social lifts, president Zelenskyy appointed a perfectly old face as Head of his Office. Andriy Bohdan has been networking with Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs at least from 2007, when he entered politics for the first time. The Bihus.info journalist investigation project claims that Bohdan’s most important connections include:

  • A close affiliation with judges of Kyiv economic court through the owner of law firm Ihor Pukshyn. This court is currently considering several cases on Privatbank which oligarch Kolomoyskyi launched against the Ukrainian state following the bank’s nationalization in 2017;
  • Bohdan worked for Andriy Portnov, an ally of disgraced ex-president Yanukovych, although this took place before Portnov became the head of a department in Yanukovych’s administration. Bohdan says he has no more relations with Portnov now;
  • His brother works in the Supreme Court of Ukraine;
  • Bohdan was a lawyer and consultant of current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko;
  • During 2010-2014, in Viktor Yanukovych’s time, Andriy Bohdan worked as the commissioner for the fight against corruption.
  • After the Revolution of Dignity, Bohdan left politics and worked as a lawyer for oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi as well as for other oligarchs.
  • During 2018-2019, Andriy Bohdan visited the General Prosecutor’s office 16 times to solve business issues of oligarch Kolomoyskyi. Particularly, the three last visits were conducted in the period when Bohdan already worked in Zelenskyy’s headquarters on the pre-election campaign.

Such different experiences, with many clients and positions! It proves that Bohdan is a professional and highly qualified lawyer, one may say. It would be so if Bohdan didn’t use his many acquaintances for illegal enrichment through credit scams. His “business” is even more questionable as he completed the fraud while leading the commission to fight corruption in 2010-2014.

Bihus.info describes Bohdan’s scheme in detail. In the interest of the Sygal brothers and other “businessmen,” Andriy Bohdan helped private firms avoid returning credits to private banks as well as to the state Deposit Guarantee Fund through offshore companies.

The scheme is quite simple. When the time comes to return loans, companies for which Bohdan worked show that they already have larger debts to an offshore firm. This offshore firm, of course, belongs to the same owner as the main company. Due to Bohdan’s professionalism, the legal part of the “deal” was impeccable. Therefore, it was easy for courts affiliated with the same Bohdan to conclude that the main company should bankrupt in favor of the offshore company of the same owner, not in favor of bank or the state Fund.

Andriy Bohdan was personally responsible for the fraud, for he acted from the name of those offshore companies, having a power of attorney from one of them and being a founder of the second one. That was documentally proved by the journalists of the Bihus project. Bohdan’s informal connections were important in all such cases. Usually, both the lawyers of the offshore firm, lawyers of the main company, as well as judges in the case were all related to Bohdan informally.

However fraudulent the result, Bohdan’s actions were legal, as Ukraine does not have laws to punish such activities.

“What’s wrong, what is illegal in it?” Bohdan answered to the accusations that he assisted as a lawyer in the fraudulent acquisition of the factory which was to be given to the state as a pledge.

Nonetheless, Bohdan was subjected to the law on Lustration and could not enter any political position. President Zelenskyy broke the law in order to appoint Bohdan as Head of his Administration, which is now renamed into the President’s Office. Moreover, Bohdan has clearly pro-Russian views, as in his last interview he admitted that he supports the Russian language as a regional language for the eastern part of Ukraine, which many in Ukraine contend would secure the region in Russia’s mental grip.

Language issues was always a political tool in Ukraine. Regional languages in times of Victor Yanukovych’s presidency were used for the policy of Russification and for pitting one part of Ukraine against another.

Ukrainian activists have filed a petition to Volodymyr Zelenskyy in favor of Bohdan’s resignation but no action was taken by the president.

Andriy Bohdan during the interview for RBK-Ukraine. Source: RBK-Ukraine

‘[It’s absolutely] moral,” Bohdan answers in the interview to accusations. “I am a lawyer protecting the interests of my clients, and doing my job well. My clients pay me money. I meet world standards of a lawyer’s work. I have nothing to blush over and have nothing to regret. A question to journalists: are you accusing me of being a good lawyer?

Pro-Russian heads of Oblast administrations appointed by president Zelenskyy, approved by Cabinet

At least four out of eight new heads of Oblast administrations proposed by Zelenskyy have business or close ideological ties with the pro-Russian proxy republics in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” (“DNR” and “LNR”).. These candidates were already approved by the Cabinet and are currently waiting for the final decree of Zelenskyy on their appointment.

Andriy Andreichikov, the candidate for the position of head of the Odesa Regional State Administration, earns money on exporting of Ukrainian scrap metals to the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic supported by the Russian army. According to a Skhemy journalist investigation, Andreichykov’s company earned UAH 379.1 mn for exported scrap metal to the “Moldovan Metallurgical Plant” between 2015 and 2018, although the factory was under sanctions up till March 2019.

Moreover, Andreichykov’s business partners include such pro-Russian extremists as Dmytro Skorop who in 2015 was sentenced for attempts to seize the local authorities with the support of 50 armed men who had to come from the DNR/LNR. The second partner of Andreychykov is Serhiy Kushnir. He leads the pro-Russian party “Rodina” in the Odesa region, which advocates the federalization of Ukraine and the recognition of Russian as the second official language in Ukraine.

Activists in Odesa protest against the appointment of Andreichykov as the head of Regional administration. Source: Radio Svoboda

According to the same investigation, Mykhailo Bno-Airiyan, candidate for the position of head of the Kyiv Regional State Administration, occupied the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2010-2014, after the victory of ex-president Yanukovych in presidential elections. Such direct involvement in the malfeasant authorities of that time had to serve as a negative filter for any further access to politics. However, this is not that important for Zelenskyy.

The most important are Luhansk and Donetsk regional administrations that have to directly deal with the consequences of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine. However, the potential head of at least one of them is a most suspicious candidate.

Vitaliy Komarnytskyi is about to lead Luhansk Oblast. However, in his declaration he concealed that he is a co-founder of a parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Luhansk. The other two co-founders of the organization are separatists claiming that eastern Ukraine should secede from Ukraine into a “Novorossiya.” Another co-founder, Berbets Eduard, is an official of the “LNR.” Moreover, in 2014 Komarnytskyi himself declared his favor for the “LNR,” but left for government-controlled Ukraine a few months later. He is also a former member of the Yanukovych’s “Party of the regions.”

Regarding Pavlo Kyrylenko, a Ukrainian military prosecutor who is about to lead the Donetsk Oblast, there is no direct evidence of his pro-Russian involvement. At the same time, it’s been proven that his brother is a militant in the “DNR” army fighting against Ukraine. While this doesn’t prove Kyrylenko’s anti-Ukrainian orientation, his brother’s activities may present a conflict of interest to his appointment to such a senior position.

Why?

Why does Zelenskyy appoint such notorious persons to important offices? At least two possible answers may be derived from an interview with Andriy Bohdan. Both are likely to be true.

The first important fact is the shortage of qualified staff in Zelenskyy’s political party and team. This was directly admitted by Andriy Bohdan. Having not enough staff, Zelenskyy (or Bohdan) still wanted to appoint familiar persons whom they could trust. And such appointments are the result.

“Can you imagine what it takes to appoint 24 governors, where are they supposed to come from?

Another reason may be the less nationalist-oriented policy than in the times of previous president Poroshenko, with a lower threshold for selecting candidates with pro-Ukrainian views. Zelenskyy claims that he supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine with only Ukrainian as a state language, and with pro-western foreign policy. However, what this really means is unclear. For Bohdan, granting Russian the status of a regional language or conducting business with factories in the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic are normal activities for a state official. He doesn’t understand what’s the reason for “being so negative.”

Edited by: Alya Shandra

Since you’re here – we have a favor to ask. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is ongoing, but major news agencies have gone away. But we’re here to stay, and will keep on providing quality, independent, open-access information on Ukrainian reforms, Russia’s hybrid war, human rights violations, political prisoners, Ukrainian history, and more. We are a non-profit, don’t have any political sponsors, and never will. If you like what you see, please help keep us online with a donation!

Tags: ,