Prosecutor General to personally join investigations related to Akhmetov assets

3 December 2021

Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova wrote on Dec. 2 that she had decided to join the groups of prosecutors that are investigating the most-high-profile criminal cases related to the assets of Rinat Akhmetov.

 

Venediktova did not name Akhmetov in her post, but she expressed her annoyance about “various unusual TV shows” that have been broadcast over the last couple of weeks. Akhmetov’s TV channels, which are providing a place for the critics of president Zelensky, are natural suspects there. In another part of her post, she mentioned a powerful person who “owns couple of popular TV channels, coal enterprises, electricity enterprises etc.” which clearly identifies Akhmetov.

 

“I don’t think that under the conditions of the social and political storm, the Office of the Prosecutor General should sit on the sidelines,” Venediktova wrote. “I have the right to intensify the investigation of a number of criminal proceedings at such a critical time for the country,” she added, mentioning that there are about 200 such cases related to Akhmetov's enterprises in the Office, adding that there are probably even more crimes with damage to the state “estimated at billions of hryvnias.”

 

Recall, the personal conflict between Akhmetov and Zelensky is being actively discussed in local media. The conflict, which possibly arose from the intention of Zelensky to include Akhmetov in the official list of oligarchs and followed tough criticism of Zelensky on Akhmetov’s channels (possibly becoming a key driver for a recent decrease in Zelensky's ratings), intensified in the second half of November. The latest displays of the intensified conflict were Akhmetov’s DTEK Renewables receiving no debt repayment of UAH 3 bln from a state company and the mutual public accusations of Zelensky and Akhmetov last Friday.

 

Akhmetov, the richest Ukrainian businessman, owns a group of popular TV channels, telecom assets, farming and basic material assets, as well as the energy holding DTEK (DTEKUA, DTEREN, DTEKOG) and steel holding Metinvest (METINV).

 

Alexander Paraschiy: The use of law enforcement bodies to fight political (or business) opponents has been a favorite tool of Ukrainian power brokers. Zelensky is not an exception, alas. This destroys Ukraine’s investment case even more.

 

Clearly, Akmetov is far from being an angel, and taking into account that his business empire encompasses hundreds of companies and hundreds of thousands of employees, it is not so hard to initiate legal pressure on many of them.

 

Of all the possible cases, clearly the most sensitive is the Rotterdam Plus case, where “losses to the state” are estimated at UAH 39 bln, a significant part of which have been “inflicted” by DTEK-related companies. Thus far, there was no progress in the case over the last two years due to the poor argumentation of wrongdoings there. The prosecutors’ success in the case can be only reached if there is strong political will, we believe, and thus far there has been no such will. Now that Venediktova has been ordered to “not sit on the sidelines” the situation with  Rotterdam Plus may change, which means risks are rising for DTEK Energy (DTEKUA) to be charged some losses. Still, the risk does not look high (less than 20%, in our view).

 

Nevertheless, our base-case scenario remains that Akhmetov and Zelensky will find common ground  - sometime in 2022. However, we do not rule out that in the next few weeks, their relationships and conflicts can reach new extremes. 

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