Ukrainian central banker questioned for ‘treason’, says Kyiv Post
(Bloomberg) – A Ukrainian central banker faces potential charges of embezzlement and abuse of power, prosecutors have said.
The State Investigation Bureau is investigating at the request of a non-governmental organization the then central bank governor, Valeriya Gontareva, and the first deputy governor Kateryna Rozhkova. Investigators are looking into the alleged embezzlement of more than 900 million hryvnia ($ 32.5 million) in cooperation with heads and owners of law firms who overcharged legal services. Gontareva and Rozhkova denied the charges. Rozhkova told Bloomberg she was “astonished” to hear about the investigation, while Gontareva called it “absurd theater.”
The request was registered on Dec. 31 and so far searches have not been carried out and no one has received a notice of suspicion, the attorney general’s office told Bloomberg News via email. The statement did not include the names of the leaders, calling them “central bank governor G and acting central bank governor R.”
The Kyiv Post earlier reported that Rozhkova and other staff were under investigation for sharing information with companies such as Kroll Inc., which helped investigate a fraud of 5, $ 5 billion to Privatbank before the government took over the country’s largest lender. The case was “revived” by central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko or someone from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, the newspaper said, citing documents and people it did not identify. Prosecutors did not confirm information from the Kyiv Post that potential charges included treason.
Shevchenko, who was nominated last year by Zelenskiy, has publicly fallen with Rozhkova – one of the two remaining deputies who worked under his predecessor. This has raised concerns among Western donors about the institution’s independence.
“This investigation, if true, seems both strange and inconsistent, as it is clear that the Privatbank affair is crucial for the country,” Rozhkova said by telephone. “The reason for this investigation is to discredit our work.”
The central bank said it was providing all necessary information to law enforcement in accordance with current legislation, without confirming whether it had been asked anything about Privatbank.
The bank said it continued to protect the legality of decisions related to the nationalization of Privatbank. “The perpetrators must be brought to justice for leading the country’s largest lender to bankruptcy,” he said in a statement.
Zelenskiy’s press service told Bloomberg that the president’s office is “concerned about internal fighting” at the central bank but “does not interfere or pressure” the bank or law enforcement.
“The office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, with the support of Ukraine’s western partners, will continue to do whatever is necessary to return all the stolen funds from the Ukrainian people, including the money linked to PrivatBank,” said the press office.
The tycoons who previously owned the Privatbank are fighting against the government’s legal efforts to recover money for their bailout. One, a former Zelenskiy supporter and business partner, was banned last week since entering the United States
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