Ukraine outgoing central bank governor urges parliament, president "to let her go at last"

Ukraine outgoing central bank governor urges parliament, president
former NBU governor Valeria Gontareva
By bne IntelliNews January 22, 2018

Former NBU governor Valeria Gontareva

Valeria Gontareva, the outgoing governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), who stepped down from the post on May 10, has urged the country's parliament and president to appoint the regulator's new head as soon as possible and "let her go at last".

"We can't go like that. It is necessary to let me go at last [from the governor's post]," Gontareva said in an interview with Ukrainian News agency on January 19. "This is important for the National Bank. There are five thousand people work in it, and it is necessary to motivate [these] people... it is necessary to have a leader."

The statement followed the country's parliament failure to consider Gontareva's resignation and the appointment of Yakiv Smolii, the acting head of NBU, as a candidate for the post of the regulator's governor. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko nominated Smolii as a candidate for the post of the governor on January 18.

On January 19, the NBU's media office published Gontarev's photo with the central bank's headquarters in downtown Kyiv in the background. "This is the photo response to the reproaches of some politicians that Gontareva is outside Ukraine," the media office wrote in a statement. "Today she expected an opportunity to make a report in the Verkhovna Rada and visited the NBU."

Gontareva, who is a close business associate of President Petro Poroshenko, has led the central bank since June 2014. Gontareva stepped down from the post on May 10, and her first deputy Smolii becomes the regulator’s acting governor. Gontareva’s resignation and a candidate for the post should be approved by the country’s parliament.

Gontareva won widespread praise for her work in cleaning up the banking sector, having closed around 80 banks that were little more than scams and glorified money-laundering schemes. She also made the bold decision to nationalise PrivatBank, the country’s largest lender by assets, which belonged to Ukrainian oligarchs Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov.

In August, Gontareva has been on paid holidays, and on unpaid leave from September 8 through September 26. Gontareva has been absent on unpaid leave since September 26, stating that she will remain absent until her resignation is approved by the country’s parliament.