One of the richest Ukrainian oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky, is under investigation by the US federal grand jury. He is suspected in laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars from real estate in the United States, according to BuzzFeed News. A grand jury is analyzing the finances of Kolomoisky, a former business partner of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. The billionaire is accused in a creating of a scheme to withdraw money from PrivatBank (the largest bank in Ukraine), through a maze of offshore companies and funnel money into prime properties, including landmark office towers and steel facilities across the the US.
Among the purchases: a 484-room, luxury hotel in Cleveland with lakefront views and a 21-story office tower just blocks away with vaulted ceilings and murals that once featured the largest bank lobby in the world. Kolomoisky and his business partners own more than 3 million square feet of land, and commercial real estate in Cleveland. They also own the Warren steel plant in Ohio.
The grand jury investigation is in Cleveland Ohio. For more than a year, federal agents tracked millions of dollars sent to the United States from companies owned by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov to buy real estate, including four skyscrapers in downtown Cleveland, from about 2008 to 2013, according to a source. edition.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Kolomoisky said he was not aware of a grand jury probe, and any deficits reported by banking regulators were «done intentionally in order to expropriate the bank, my private property,« he said. «It was an artificially created hole by the national bank.«
Bogolyubov said he never took money illegally from the bank and that any real estate purchased in the US came from legitimate funds. All the transactions were documented by his partners in the US, he said. «PrivatBank has it. American banks have it,« he said, adding that he has never been contacted by any law enforcement agencies. “No one has asked me any questions,” he said.
With the ongoing US grand jury investigation, federal agents have traveled multiple times to Ukraine — including in February — where they met with Riaboshapka and investigators from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine to discuss the case against the 57-year-old oligarch and his partner, BuzzFeed News has learned. In an interview, Artem Sytnyk, director of the anti-corruption bureau, said he's cooperating with the FBI in an «ongoing investigation,« but declined to give details because of a confidentiality agreement with the FBI. The Justice Department’s international money laundering and kleptocracy team took part in the trip.
Shortly afterwards, in early March, Prosecutor General Ryaboshapka was removed from his postition, and on April 28, the Verkhovna Rada's law enforcement committee upheld a bill extending the grounds for the dismissal of Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
A subsequent investigation by Ukraine regulator (National Bank of Ukraine) found a $5.5 billion shortfall in PrivatBank's ledgers from what they called “a large-scale and coordinated fraud” that involved the bank’s major shareholders, Kolomoisky and fellow Ukrainian billionaire Gennadiy Bogolyubov. To keep the bank from collapse, the government tapped into taxpayer funds to plug the hole.
The grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence that Kolomoisky committed the crime to put him on trial. If the grand jury decides that there is enough evidence, the Kolomoisky will be charged.
There is no extradition agreement between Ukraine and the United States. If the grand jury finds Kolomoisky guilty, Zelensky, Venediktov and Bakanov may face a difficult situation in which they will have to decide whether to help the investigation process or stand in its way.
We remind you that the ongoing investigation may cast a shadow over the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. Prior to becoming president, Zelensky starred in the comedy show "Servant of the People" on Kolomoisky's TV channel, which has a personal relationship with a billionaire who controls electricity, the media and the real estate empire.