The US Justice Department files a civil forfeiture complaint against Kolomoisky, accusing him of laundering billions of dollars in US

By bne IntelliNews August 7, 2020

The US Justice Department accused Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky of stealing billions of dollars from PrivatBank and then using a vast array of US-based companies to launder the money in the US in a civil forfeiture complaint, the Washington Post reported on August 6.

The accusation follows on from a raid on Kolomoisky’s offices in Cleveland this week as part of a mounting investigation by the US Grand Jury that was launched earlier this year.

The FBI raided the Cleveland office of Optima Management and Miami offices that control the real estate investments of Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky in the US on August 4. Kolomoisky is under a Grand Jury investigation for laundering over $600mn through US property deals in a five-year long spending spree and other scams. The money is part of the $5.5bn he is alleged to have siphoned out of his PrivatBank, which was finally nationalised in 2016 with a massive hole in its balance sheet.

Kolomoisky is already fighting two cases against the new state-controlled PrivatBank in London and Cyprus, which is seeking to recover billions of dollars that disappeared from his bank, but now it appears his legal problems in the US are growing rapidly too.

The US civil forfeiture complaint seeks to seize commercial properties in Kentucky and Texas owned by Kolomoisky and his partners. The Justice Department alleged that Kolomoisky and his business partner, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, stole so much from PrivatBank that Ukraine’s national bank had to give the institution a $5.5bn bailout “to stave off economic crisis for the whole country.”

Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men, has ties to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and he played a role in the events that led to President Trump’s impeachment last year.

 

 

The US has become a major haven for money laundering and Kolomoisky took full advantage of the legal regime there. Among Kolomoisky’s and Boholiubov’s US assets are more than 5mn square feet of commercial real estate in Ohio; steel plants in Kentucky, West Virginia and Michigan; a cellphone manufacturing plant in Illinois; and commercial real estate in Texas, the Justice Department alleged. The forfeiture complaints sought to seize a roughly 19.5-acre office park in Dallas and the PNC Plaza building in Louisville.

Michael J. Sullivan, a lawyer for Kolomoisky, said in an email: “Mr. Kolomoisky emphatically denies the allegations in the complaints filed by the Department of Justice.” The allegations, which are not criminal charges, are similar to those in a lawsuit filed by the bank in a Delaware court. A lawyer for Boholiubov did not reply to an email seeking comment.

In a statement written in Russian, Kolomoisky said all the money used to purchase the US properties was his own, received through a deal made with a mining company in 2007 and 2008 and from other businesses that banked with Privatbank.

Kolomoisky also has long been facing a criminal probe by the US attorney’s office in Cleveland for possible money laundering. As a part of that case, the FBI raided the office of Optima Management Group in downtown Cleveland on Tuesday, as well as an Optima office in the Southeast Financial Center building in Miami.

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