The business associations of Ukraine united in a joint statement to call on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to protect the independence and staff of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) in a statement released on December 18.
“The business community united by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, the European Business Association, the Independent Association of Banks of Ukraine, and the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs is deeply concerned about the ongoing situation around the National Bank of Ukraine and its board,” the joint associations said in a common statement.
“Pressure on the NBU board is an unfavourable sign for foreign investors and multinational companies operating in Ukraine as it questions safety, justice, and rule of law in Ukraine. The business community urges the president as a guarantor of the Constitution to protect the constitutional rights of individuals and help to resolve this situation,” the associations said.
Ukraine’s central bank has been under attack by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky after it nationalised his bank, PrivatBank, in December 2016.
One of the main supporters of Zelenskiy during his election campaign earlier this year that resulted in a landslide victory, Kolomoisky’s media empire was pressed into service and delivered Zelenskiy a 73% of the vote.
As soon as Zelenskiy won the election Kolomoisky returned to Ukraine from self-imposed exile in Israel and has launched a legal assult on the NBU to either denationalise PrivatBank or at least get several billions of dollars as compensation.
Kolomoisky's campaign has become increasingly aggressive. Former NBU governor Valeriya Gontareva, who made the decision to nationalise PrivatBank, has been singled out. Gontareva’s house was burnt down in an arson attack on September 16 and she and her family have been the target of repeated attacks and harassment.
The NBU has accused Kolomoisky of running a “terror” campaign against the bank and its staff. It issued its strongest statement yet on November 26 accusing Kolomoisky of launching a coordinated campaign of terror, intimidation and physical attacks on both the bank’s staff and its independence.
The business community released their statement a day before the Kyiv Economic Court is due to rule in a lawsuit filed by Kolomoisky that could see the court rule the nationalisation of PrivatBank was illegal. The ruling is due to be handed down on December 19.
Zelenskiy has been put in a difficult position. On the one hand the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said returning Privatbank to Kolomoisky is a “red line” that it wont cross and suggested that to do so would end the fund’s financial support for the country. On the other hand Zelenskiy has said little about the case and Kolomoisky is operating with impunity.