Who is Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoiskiy, targeted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's anti-corruption crackdown?

Ukrainian law enforcement and security officials searched the home of billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoiskiy on Wednesday

Reuters February 02, 2023 11:07:56 IST
Who is Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoiskiy, targeted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's anti-corruption crackdown?

The United States barred Kolomoiskiy from travelling in 2021 'due to his involvement in significant corruption,' which occurred in part while he was governor of Dnipropetrovsk. File image/Wikimedia Commons

Kyiv: Ukrainian law enforcement and security officials searched the home of billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoiskiy on Wednesday.

Here are some facts about him.

Wealth

Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoiskiy, 59, is one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men. Forbes magazine puts his wealth at around $1 billion, but this is less than half his estimated fortune a decade ago.

Early life

Kolomoiskiy was born in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, which was then part of the Soviet Union and is now known as Dnipro.

He graduated from Dnipropetrovsk Metallurgical Institute and, like many other future business leaders, went into the import-export business as the Soviet Union collapsed.

Assets

Kolomoiskiy’s big business breakthrough came in 1992, when he was one of the founders of PrivatBank, which went on to become Ukraine’s largest bank.

PrivatBank was nationalised by the government in 2016 as part of a clean-up of the banking system.

But Kolomoiskiy’s assets still include 1+1 Media Group, which controls one of Ukraine’s most influential television channels, and part of its largest airline, Ukraine International Airlines.

Politics

Kolomoiskiy served as governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region from March 2014 until March 2015.

He backed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s successful election campaign in 2019 and his television channel broadcast Servant of the People, the series in which Zelenskyy played the role of president.

Since then, Kolomoiskiy appears to have fallen foul of a crackdown launched by Zelenskyy on wealthy businessmen known as “oligarchs” who wield outsized political influence. Zelenskyy has also sought to root out chronic corruption in Ukraine during Russia’s war on its neighbour.

Sanctions

The United States imposed travel sanctions on Kolomoiskiy in 2021 “due to his involvement in significant corruption”, partly while serving as governor of Dnipropetrovsk.

US authorities have also alleged that Kolomoiskiy and a business partner laundered stolen funds through the United States. He has denied that allegation.

Investigations

Kolomoiskiy also faces problems in Ukraine.

Apart from Wednesday’s raid, anti-corruption officials are also probing a case in which they suspect eight people of embezzling assets and funds in 2015 from a state-controlled oil company, Ukrnafta, formerly partly owned by Kolomoiskiy.

The firm was one of several strategic companies taken over by the Ukrainian government late last year to help boost the country’s defence industry.

Kolomoiskiy has denied all charges of wrongdoing against him.

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