Ukrainian Billionaire Arrested in Corruption Crackdown

( – One of the richest men in Ukraine has been indicted on fraud and money laundering charges. Ihor Kolomoisky was arrested on September 2. Kolomoisky was an ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — but the Ukrainian leader is determined to show that he can clean up corruption.

Kolomoisky, who is Ukrainian-born but a dual Israeli-Cypriot citizen, built his wealth at the end of the Soviet era and expanded it in the 1990s by founding PrivatBank — which counted President Joe Biden’s son Hunter among its customers — and investing in a wide range of companies. He was elected as Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk (Dnipro) region in 2014 but was dismissed by then-president Petro Poroshenko two years later after Poroshenko accused him of fraud. In 2019, he funded Zelenskyy’s successful election campaign and threw the media companies he controlled behind him.

However, in 2020, Kolomoisky’s reputation began to crumble faster. It started with a US indictment for bank fraud and quickly expanded to his Ukrainian businesses. Zelenskyy revoked his citizenship last July and nationalized some of his businesses — including several gasoline producers — in November, citing the companies’ strategic importance in wartime.

On September 2, the Security Service of Ukraine announced it had arrested Kolomoisky for attempting to launder $13.5 million worth of Ukrainian currency by using the banks he controlled to move it out of the country. He’s now been charged with fraud and money laundering, and a Kyiv court has ordered him to be held for two months of pretrial detention while the investigation continues.

It’s significant that such a high-profile supporter of Zelenskyy has been arrested. The Ukrainian president has been facing serious criticism for the level of corruption in his country, and he clearly wants to show the Western countries that are sending Ukraine billions in aid that he’s willing to clean up the mess. Will anything really change, though? Only time will tell.

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