One of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs has been arrested as part of a fraud investigation, the country’s state media reports.
A Kyiv court on Saturday ordered Ihor Kolomoisky, a key supporter of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s 2019 presidential campaign, to 60 days of pretrial detention while authorities investigate fraud allegations against him, Ukrinform reported.
Kolomoisky’s media and banking dealings have made him one of Ukraine’s richest men.
However, the US State Department previously accused him of using his “political influence and power for personal gain”.
The State Department imposed sanctions on Kolomoisky in March 2021 for his alleged involvement in “corrupt actions that undermined the rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s trust in its government’s democratic institutions and public processes.”
On Saturday, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court ordered Kolomoisky to be held until October 31, Ukrinform said, and he was given the opportunity to post bail worth more than 500 million Ukrainian hryvnias ($14 million).
“If the businessman makes a deposit, he must fulfill a number of conditions – he must not leave the place where he will stay, not appear for interrogations and inform the relevant authorities about any change of residence,” the Ukrinform says -Report further.
“In addition, in this criminal case, he is prohibited from communicating with witnesses and other suspects… and he must also surrender his passports for travel abroad.”
Kolomoisky is being investigated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine under Articles 190 and 209 – for fraud and money laundering of criminally obtained property.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office is reportedly overseeing the preliminary investigation, which will focus on Kolomoisky’s alleged role in laundering more than half a billion Ukrainian hryvnias ($130.5 million) by transferring funds abroad between 2013 and 2020 through banks controlled by him.
Videos and photos showed Kolomoisky being taken away from the Kyiv District Court.
According to a 2021 report by Transparency International, Ukraine is the second most corrupt country in Europe after Russia and ranks 122nd out of 180 countries worldwide.
The case against Kolomoisky is the latest in Ukraine’s anti-corruption campaign during the Russian invasion, which targeted several high-profile figures and seized luxury watches, cars and thousands of dollars in cash.
“Any criminal who has the audacity to harm Ukraine, especially in time of war, must be aware that we will tie their hands,” SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk said in a statement released in February.
Earlier this year, Zelensky fired a number of senior Ukrainian officials over a corruption scandal involving the procurement of war supplies. It was the biggest shakeup of his administration since the start of the Russian invasion.
Those caught up in corruption investigations include the acting head of Kyiv’s tax authority, who was allegedly part of a plan to miss 45 billion Ukrainian hryvnias ($1.2 billion) in unpaid taxes, and former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has been linked to an investigation into the January 18 helicopter crash that killed 14 people. Avakov has denied any wrongdoing.
On August 11, Zelensky fired all those in charge of regional military recruiting centers on the grounds of “illicit enrichment, legalization of illegally obtained funds, unlawful taking of advantages and illegal transport of conscripts across the border.”
“Any ‘military commissar’ who is under criminal investigation will be held accountable,” he said.
“Officers who mistook their shoulder straps for profit will definitely be brought to justice.”