Ukraine central bank chief Gontareva steps down as new acting governor takes over

Ukraine central bank chief Gontareva steps down as new acting governor takes over
By Sergei Kuznetsov in Kyiv May 11, 2017

The governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Valeriya Gontareva has stepped down from the post on May 10, and her first deputy Yakiv Smoliy becomes the regulator's acting governor, the NBU said in a statement.

"Today is the last working day of NBU governor Gontareva, the news she announced a month ago. Gontareva is resigning from her post at the NBU, going on a forced leave until the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, accepts her resignation," explained the NBU's statement published on May 10.

In early March, Gontareva indicated that she would resign after the next memorandum under the country’s $17.5bn support programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been signed and sealed. On April 3, the IMF approved the release of a $1bn tranche to Ukraine.

Gontareva, who is a close business associate of President Petro Poroshenko, has led the central bank since June 2014. She is its second governor since the Euromaidan protests ousted the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych, and oversaw the closure of more than 80 banks, many of them due to their involvement in money laundering or for having a non-transparent ownership structure.

"Before leaving, Gontareva is ready to report to the Verkhovna Rada, as provided for by the NBU governor resignation procedure, upon the parliament’s request," the central bank added in the statement.

According to the Ukrainian legislative, the decision about the NBU governor resignation is to be made by the president and approved by the parliament.

Commentators in Kyiv cited several possible candidatures for the post, specifically, Raiffeisen Bank Aval head Volodymyr Lavrenchuk, advisor to local operations of Alfa Bank head Roman Shpek, NBU Council head Bogdan Danylyshyn, head of state-owned Ukreximbank Oleksandr Hrytsenko.

Meanwhile, the professional activities of Gontareva and her NBU colleagues continue to be scrutinised by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), which on March 29 raided the central bank’s headquarters. Operatives seized documents under what they said was a criminal investigation into abuse of power by senior NBU officials in 2015-2016.