NABU detains former Privatbank top manager
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) detained former deputy CEO of Privatbank Volodymyr Yatsenko, law enforcement bodies reported on Feb. 22. Yatsenko is suspected in misappropriation of large funds of Privatbank by abusing his authority, the Prosecutor General’s Office reported the same day. “Witnesses in one of important and sensitive criminal cases, monitored by Ukraine’s international partners, have become suspects today,” Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova commented.
Yatsenko tried to fly from Ukraine early Feb. 22, just after Venediktova signed a suspicion notice that allowed to detain him, according to biz.censor.net news site. The jet with Yatsenko had 10 minutes left to reach the Ukrainian border when law enforcement bodies ordered it to return and land in Kyiv.
According to nv.ua news site, Yatsenko, being the deputy CEO in Privatbank before its bankruptcy and nationalization in late 2016, was the key representative of former shareholders, Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, in the bank’s management board. Recall, Ukraine’s government and bailed-in creditors contributed UAH 184 bln (USD 6.6 bln) to the bank’s equity in 2016-2017.
In related news, the NABU reported on Feb. 23 that Venediktova had signed suspicion notices which were later served to three former top managers of Privatbank for alleged misappropriation of UAH 136 mln. Among the suspects are the bank’s former CEO (Oleksandr Dubilet), the deputy CEO who tried to leave Ukraine (Yatsenko) and the unidentified former head of the bank’s financial management department (it is disclosed that she served as a top manager of a related insurance company). A day before Privatbank was recognized insolvent, the suspects allegedly had paid the insurance company an additional commission for UAH 137 mln based on false documents, according to the NABU.
Alexander Paraschiy: This is the first detention of a Privatbank former manager in over four years after the bank was recognized insolvent. By approving it, Venediktova, who is a close ally of President Zelensky, earmarks his possible shift from Ihor Kolomoisky, the tycoon who actively supported Zelensky’s election in 2019. Most likely, this process is also backed by the new U.S. administration, as hinted by Venediktova.
Such move will be definitely endorsed by Ukraine’s western partners, including the IMF. Moreover, if Ukraine proves its determination in investigating the reasons of Privatbank’s insolvency and persecuting former bank’s shareholders and managers, it can count on more financial support from the U.S. and the IMF.
Recall, in 2017, the IMF provided Ukraine the fourth tranche under the EFF program, even though Ukraine had met only 3 of 11 structural benchmarks. Yet it had made a bold step to nationalize Privatbank. This time, it could happen that the IMF would also close eyes on some unmet commitments under the current program in exchange for tangible progress in investigation of the alleged Privatbank fraud.