The Ukrainian security service confirms new allegations against magnate Kolomoisky

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian business tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky has been served with a third set of charges following his imprisonment on suspicion of fraud and money laundering, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on Friday.

The new allegations against one of Ukraine’s richest men were first reported Thursday by Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist and parliamentarian who now works as an adviser in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office.

The SBU, in cooperation with the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General’s Office, said that Kolomoisky was suspected of receiving 5.8 billion hryvnias from an alleged plan to embezzle funds from a bank that he founded and of which he was a shareholder.

The sum, currently worth $157 million, was equivalent to more than $700 million at the time, the SBU said.

Kolomoisky is suspected of having founded an organized group of bank employees between 2013 and 2014 in order to obtain the funds, it was said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Kolomoisky or his lawyers for comment on the new allegations. Kolomoisky has denied any wrongdoing in the past.

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 US sanctions and was once a supporter of Zelensky, whose election he supported in 2019.

Kolomoisky is the former owner of PrivatBank, which was nationalized at the end of 2016 as part of a restructuring of Ukraine’s banking system.

This month he was served with a complaint for the first time on suspicion of fraud and money laundering and had to remain in custody until the end of October. He was offered bail, but his lawyer said they would appeal and not post 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.

Zelensky is trying to curb our corruption and limit the influence of business tycoons as Ukraine seeks membership in the European Union.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Potter)

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