Ukrainian regional court refuses to hear NBU claims against oligarch Kolomoisky because he lives in Switzerland

Ukrainian regional court refuses to hear NBU claims against oligarch Kolomoisky because he lives in Switzerland
Ukrainian regional court refuses to hear NBU claims against uber oligarch Kolomoisky because he lives in Switzerland / twitter
By bne IntelliNews July 5, 2018

The Economic Court of Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region has refused to consider claims filed by the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) against former co-owner of nationalised PrivatBank Ihor Kolomoisky to recover UAH4.855bn ($184mn) of refinancing loans issued to the battered lender in 2008-2015, according to the online outlet.

The court refused to open proceedings due to the fact that the former owner of PrivatBank cancelled registration in the Dnipropetrovsk region in March, 2017, and sold his local apartments. The court did not find other real estate belonging to Kolomoisky. According to the court's information, Kolomoisky's current residence is Geneva.

The regulator's lawsuits against Kolomoisky were filed in June. Kolomoisky was a guarantor for four loan agreements, including the one dated October 24, 2008 (the debt is UAH1.287bn), dated March 3, 2009 (UAH1.799bn), dated October 2, 2014 (the debt is UAH503.1mn), and that dated December 5, 2014 (the debt of UAH1.266bn).

Earlier, in a separate court process, the High Court of Justice in England ruled to establish a weekly limit of GBP20,000 on personal expenses of Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoisky. In December, the same court ruled to freeze worldwide assets of the former owners, including six companies controlled by Kolomoisky and his partner Hennadiy Bogolyubov, worth more than $2.5bn.

At the same time, the oligarchs have challenged its takeover by the state, as well as the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU)'s demands to restructure and repay debts to related parties. Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov have filed more than 400 lawsuits against the NBU, PrivatBank and the country's Finance Ministry.

According to Kolomoisky, the London court is the jurisdiction "where the parties will have to openly show everything, tell how it was and what was not". "I think we will get to this trial in the court, but it will not be soon and most likely it will happen under another government in Ukraine," he added, underlining that he personally is "very optimistic" about litigation over PrivatBank.

According to the NBU, the terms of the voluntary restructuring of the loans of former owners of PrivatBank expired in July 2017, however, the former owners have failed to fulfil their obligations.

Earlier, the nation's Finance Ministry published a letter signed by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, in which the businessmen commit to carrying out a restructuring programme by mid-2017. If they could successfully restructure 75% of the portfolio, the NBU said it would consider the possibility of extending the restructuring for the remaining 25% until late 2017.

However, a senior NBU official recently told bne IntelliNews on conditions of not being identified that the regulator's position in courts is weak due to the fact that the letter signed by the billionaires has no legal force under Ukrainian legislation.

The fact that Ukrainian businessmen Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis recently won a legal battle against the bail-in of their deposits of UAH1.1bn (around $40mn) during the nationalisation of PrivatBank adds to the regulator's woes. The funds were deposited at PrivatBank by members of the Surkis family, whom the NBU recognised as alleged related parties of the bank, owned before its nationalisation by oligarchs Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov.

The government nationalised Privatbank in December 2016 after it failed to fulfil a three-year recapitalisation plan. The bank was found to have a UAH148bn ($5.6bn) hole in its balance sheet because of related-party financing.

In 2017, then NBU's governor Valeriya Gontareva said the post-nationalisation audit of the bank found that 100% of the corporate portfolio had been made to related parties.