Oligarch Kolomoisky on Privatbank Saga, Zelenskyy, Giuliani, and Ukrainian Oligarchy
17 September, 2019
Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky speaks to journalists at Mystetskyi Arsenal building in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 13. Screenshot

Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky’s return to the public spotlight has resulted in no shortage of headlines, including accusations by former central bank head Valeria Gontareva and theories regarding the future of Privatbank, previously owned by Kolomoisky, amidst revelations that the president’s office is looking into the matter.

Earlier, Hromadske had the chance to participate in an impromptu interview with the oligarch during his recent surprise appearance at the Yalta European Strategy conference in Kyiv, and we’ve compiled a list of the top highlights, where the oligarch tackles questions ranging from his relationship with the current Ukrainian president, the future of Privatbank, and his opinions on the end of oligarchy.

His Relationship with Zelenskyy

If you were to advise the president on something, what are the chances he’d listen?

Kolomoisky: In order for me to give advice to the president, I’d have to talk to him. But I don’t talk to him.  

But you met him recently.

K: Yes, that was the first time I’d seen him for the past four months. I haven’t even seen him once after his inauguration. But in order to be an advisor, I’d have to talk to him constantly, otherwise speaking to each other once in four months doesn’t work.

READ MORE: What Does Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky Own in Ukraine?

What did you talk about during that meeting?

K: There was a meeting on completely practical questions related to the upcoming heating season…

On Privatbank

Kolomoisky: You know I have a disagreement here, yes? That is, I don’t agree to the nationalization of Privatbank. Now, this disagreement is easier to resolve than with the previous president. That’s because it’s hard to resolve a disagreement with the person who started all of this and was a direct participant. Today, except for some members of the National Bank [of Ukraine], no one in power now had anything to do with the nationalization of Privatbank. So the government, which today is a party to this disagreement, can, if they want, take the initiative and set a mandate for negotiators who will begin to talk to negotiators from my side. And we can come to some kind of agreement...I’ll wait for that to happen..The government has the understanding that they need to exit this situation and are in consultations to start to process. I don’t want to cause a fuss but you understand that I was robbed, right?

READ MORE: Ukraine Takes Court Battle Against Kolomoisky to the US

Depends on who you talk to.

K: What do you mean? Listen, I created this bank in 1992. No one can say that I privatized it, or I was gifted it, or that I stole it somewhere. This was my bank, I created it, I put in my own money. There was $2 billion of my own capital in that bank.

What about Kroll? (Kroll is a corporate investigations firm that first brought to light the Privatbank fraud. - ed.)

K: Kroll? Who are they? Financial detectives that will write anything for money? Let’s not be ridiculous. 

Rinat Akhmetov and Zelenskyy’s Promise to End Oligarchy

K: Understand, we have a friendly rivalry in business. I don’t want to make any negative predictions. He has his own problems, which he knows about, and I think he’s completely capable of resolving them himself. There are normal, civilized methods to resolve them. I think that in any case that it won’t involve re-privatization, or nationalization, or any other types of expropriation.

READ MORE: Ukrainian Oligarch Kolomoisky’s Diminishing Influence in the Oil Market

On Rudy Giuliani 

(Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and current private counsel for US President Donald Trump, attempted to set up a meeting between himself and President Zelenskyy -ed.)

K: I haven’t established a relationship with Giuliani, because we don’t have one. There’s just a "misunderstanding."

READ MORE: Former NBU Head Gontareva on Threats from Kolomoisky and PrivatBank Nationalization