According to a statement released on Saturday by the Security Service of Ukraine, Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, who was behind Zelensky’s Rise, was arrested.
Ihor Kolomoisky is one of the richest people in Ukraine, with an estimated net worth of slightly under $1.7 billion. He was detained over the weekend by Ukrainian authorities on a number of fraud and money laundering accusations, just as the government is attempting to demonstrate to the outside world that it is capable of fighting systemic corruption.
According to a statement released on Saturday by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the billionaire – who is described as the “de facto owner of a large financial and industrial group” – allegedly attempted to launder more than 500 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($13.5 million) by “transferring it abroad, while using the infrastructure of banking institutions controlled by him.”
He has been placed in pretrial jail for two months while an investigation is ongoing, and bail has been set at an astounding $14 million by a Kyiv court.
Importantly, Kolomoisky was a big early supporter of current President Volodymyr Zelensky who helped bring him to power, as The New York Times noted in its report of his arrest on Tuesday. Additionally, it is widely thought that he at various points in time supported radical private militia armies.
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According to the New York Times, “His business interests have included oil and banking, and he was once considered a patron of Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian whose popular shows were broadcast on Mr. Kolomoisky’s television channel before he successfully ran for the presidency.”
The Times story also includes the following other highly revealing details:
Suspicions of corruption and embezzlement have dogged Mr. Kolomoisky for years. In 2017, he left Ukraine for Switzerland and Israel after the government of then-President Petro O. Poroshenko seized a bank he co-owned and accused him of a large-scale fraud that threatened to destabilize Ukraine’s economy.
He returned in 2019 after Mr. Zelensky’s defeat of Mr. Poroshenko, raising fears that his ties to the new president would help him regain his economic and political clout.
Therefore, it is only logical that the Western mainstream media is now portraying this as a “big fish” prosecution demonstrating Zelensky is being “tough” and finally taking off the gloves to expose long-standing corruption.
The timing is especially intriguing because millionaire Kolomoisky was arrested the same weekend Zelensky fired his own defense minister. “This week, parliament will be asked to make a personnel decision … I have decided to replace the minister of defense of Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” Zelensky said over the weekend.
Journalist Max Blumenthal said that the main US defense companies and their auxiliary organizations plan to make Ukraine into Europe’s ‘Big Israel‘.
Guess who was connected to questionable Bursima relationships and degrees of separation away from Hunter Biden? “Besides being connected through the Burisma energy giant, Hunter Biden did business with Igor Kolomoisky’s bank,” one prior report reads.
Regarding the ousted defense minister, Reznikov, the military’s practice of paying inflated prices for imported goods—oftentimes at triple or more the cost—and pocketing the proceeds is thought to have been the subject of an anti-corruption investigation. Additionally, there was a recent recruiting scandal in which high-ranking military recruiters received substantial bribes to help people avoid conscription.
Ukraine’s application to join the European Union is in the background. Of course, the reality that Ukraine is the most corrupt society in Europe will continue to be a significant obstacle for many years to come.
In the meanwhile, Russian media has noted that Kolomoysky has occasionally entered politics directly and that his wealth has had a significant impact on the nation in both known and unknown ways:
Kolomoysky burst on to the political scene in 2014, when he was appointed governor of the southeastern Dnepropetrovsk Region following a Western-backed coup in Kiev. A year later, however, he was dismissed from his post over a conflict with then-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko amid a struggle for control of Ukrnafta and state-owned oil pipeline operator Ukrtransnafta.
In 2016, Ukrainian authorities also nationalized Kolomoysky’s PrivatBank, after declaring it a major threat to the country’s financial system, following allegations of large-scale fraud.
Kolomoysky is also widely considered to have played a major role in the rise to power of President Vladimir Zelensky. Before launching his political campaign in 2019, Zelensky was a comedian, whose show was hosted by a Kolomoysky-controlled media holding. The magnate himself said he “wanted” Zelensky to become president, but denied close contacts with him.
Given that the US State Department sanctioned Kolomoysky and his family members as far back as 2021, it is highly possible that Washington put pressure on Kiev in this particular issue. He was involved, according to a US statement at the time, “in corrupt acts that undermined rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions.”
He may have even had his Ukrainian passport revoked at one point, although he has personally called these rumors and the other accusations of corruption “nonsense” and without foundation.
Perhaps as a result, Zelensky found it easy to present himself before the courts today (after all these years of “open” corruption). Kolomoisky made several pro-Moscow statements starting in 2019, taking a sharp turn.
Ukraine should give up on the West and go back into Russia’s fold, influential Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky said in an interview with The New York Times Wednesday.
Kolomoisky’s business ties to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have been under heavy scrutiny since the start of the former comedian’s election campaign this year. Both men have rejected suggestions that Kolomoisky has behind-the-scenes influence over Zelenskiy.
The Moscow Times picked out quotes from Kolomoisky’s emotional and profanity-laced interview that The New York Times says marks a “remarkable change of heart” for Russia’s former opponent.