Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky held in anti-corruption drive
One of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky, is set to be detained for a period of two months due to suspicions of engaging in fraudulent activities and money laundering.
It is alleged that over the course of seven years, Kolomoisky transferred $14 million (£11.1 million) abroad through banks under his control. His legal team has indicated that he will not post bail and plans to challenge the court’s decision.
This development is the latest action taken as part of Ukraine’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, which has focused on several prominent individuals.
Local television footage captured Kolomoisky leaving a district court in Kyiv, dressed in a blue FC Dnipro tracksuit jacket on Saturday. According to his defense team, he is currently being held at Ukraine’s security service (SBU) headquarters in Kyiv.
The agency responsible for the investigation stated, “It was determined that between 2013 and 2020, Ihor Kolomoisky legitimized more than half a billion hryvnias ($14 million) by transferring them overseas and utilizing banks under his control.”
In his usual evening video address on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky seemed to reference this case and emphasized that there would be no return to the old ways for those who had exploited Ukraine and placed themselves above the law.
“Each of us feels that this will be a Ukraine with different rules,” he said.
Mr Zelensky cited the fight against corruption as one of his main priorities when he came to power in 2019.
Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, his administration has been eager to highlight Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption – seen as one of the key tests the country would have to pass to join Western institutions like the European Union.
Saturday’s court ruling against Mr Kolomoisky is not the first move against him.
The tycoon’s home in the south-eastern city of Dnipro was raided in February this year as part of a separate investigation into embezzlement and tax evasion at the country’s two largest oil companies partially owned by him.
In 2021, the US placed him under sanctions for alleged “significant corruption” during his time as governor of the wider Dnipropetrovsk region. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Kolomoisky is a wealthy businessman involved in Ukrainian media, oil and banking. His TV channel gave Mr Zelensky his break with the comedy series Servant of the People, before he backed the former actor’s bid for the presidency.
Mr Zelensky faced accusations of acting as Mr Kolomoisky’s puppet during the election campaign, including from rival and former president Petro Poroshenko.
But the Ukrainian leader has repeatedly denied that Mr Kolomoisky has had any influence over the government.