New allegation against detained Ukrainian magnate Kolomoisky, official says

(Reuters) – Detained Ukrainian business magnate Ihor Kolomoisky, already facing fraud charges, has been served with notice of a third set of allegations, a Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist and parliamentarian who now works as an adviser in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said on Telegram that Kolomoisky has been told of the allegations in detention.

Leshchenko said the new allegations resulted from an investigation by Ukraine’s Bureau of Economic Security.

They included forging documents, illegal takeovers of property by an organised group and property acquisition in questionable circumstances. There was no immediate comment from the Bureau of Economic Security.

Leshchenko said investigators alleged that Kolomoisky was behind a plan to steal funds from Privatbank, which he owned, by creating the appearance he was depositing funds at the bank’s main office.

He said Kolomoisky was alleged to have forged deposits worth the equivalent of nearly $24 million. PrivatBank was nationalised in 2016 as part of a clean-up of the banking system.

Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men, has denied any wrongdoing.

He was first served notice of suspicion of charges of fraud and money laundering this month and ordered held in custody until the end of October. He was offered the option of posting bail, but his lawyer said they would appeal and post no bail.

Within days, Kolomoisky was identified by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) as one of six people suspected of embezzling 9.2 billion hryvnias ($250 million) from PrivatBank.

The latest allegations come as Zelenskiy seeks to root our corruption and restrict the influence of business magnates in order to underpin Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

Kolomoisky is among the tycoons who built their fortunes in the ashes of the Soviet Union and amassed political power in Ukraine’s fragile democracy. He is under U.S. sanctions and was once a backer of Zelenskiy whose election he supported in 2019.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Nick Starkov; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)