The English High Court has ordered the arrest of $2.5 billion in worldwide assets belonging to Ukrainian oligarchs Ihor Kolomoisky and Henadiy Boholyubov.
The ruling comes a result of a lawsuit launched against the businessmen by Ukraine’s largest lender PrivatBank, formerly owned by the the pair until its nationalization at the end of 2016.
It also freezes six companies that the two men are believed to own or control.
Kolomoisky and Boholyubov are accused of syphoning $2 billion dollars through insider loans during their ownership of the bank.
When the bank was nationalized in December 2016, it had a $5.5 billion hole that is widely believed to be a result of insider lending.
In a statement, PrivatBank said through “these initial legal proceedings, with interest,” it was seeking to recover more than $2.5 billion.
“The freezing order was granted on the basis of detailed evidence put to the court that Messrs Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov extracted almost US$2 billion from the bank through a particular series of dishonest transactions, which had the effect of transferring the funds to companies that they secretly owned or controlled,” it stated.
Kolomoisky, commenting to his own news website TSN.ua, stated that this was “a temporary arrest for the duration of the trial.”
According to an interview with Ukraine’s finance minister Oleksandr Danyliuk in the Financial Times, Privat’s former owners and their associates lodged more than 350 lawsuits in Ukraine’s unreformed courts to challenge the bank’s nationalisation with successful results.
He said cases against the businessmen were not so successful.
Kolomoisky was spotted meeting with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in Amsterdam last month. Lutsenko later claimed it was an accidental meeting.
Kolomoisky has also filed a lawsuit against advisory firm AlixPartners, hired by Ukraine’s National Bank to investigate the Privat’s former lending practices, in the London High Court in November.
The National Bank of Ukraine today welcomed the High Court’s decision against PrivatBank’s former owners.
“This marks considerable progress for the bank, which was on the verge of failure in December 2016,” it said in a press statement. “It is dealing with a complex legacy of bad banking practices as it strives for a return to profitability.”
“This claim is good news for the Ukrainian people and the wider Ukrainian economy. The NBU has every confidence that the High Court in London will conduct proceedings in a fair, impartial and transparent manner, impervious to outside influence.”