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The recent arrest of Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky marks yet another milestone in the Ukrainian government’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on Saturday that Kolomoisky, the founder of PrivatBank and long-time backer of the president Volodymyr Zelensky, is charged with fraud and money laundering amounting to half a billion UAH which he then took abroad.
This is one of many steps taken by the Ukrainian government to meet the prerequisites set by NATO and the EU for ascension. President Zelensky has declared a personal goal to join NATO, and the fight against corruption is a major component of this effort. Furthermore, the indictment comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken imposed sanctions against Kolomoisky in March 2021 for his “significant corruption”, namely his use of political influence and official power for his own personal gain.
While government sources have denied any connection between the Ukrainian president and Kolomoisky, reports suggest otherwise. A July 2010 Atlantic Council report revealed that Zelensky’s 2019 presidential campaign benefited from the billionaire’s media network and close advisers. Not only that, officials who posed a threat to Kolomoisky’s interests reportedly got removed from their positions since Zelensky assumed power.
Kolomoisky has since been ordered to remain in custody until October 31, and his bail is set at Hr 509 million ($14 million). A forces-wide search of his home in February 2021 is in regards to a separate investigation on alleged embezzlement and tax evasion in which PrivatBank was nationalized five years earlier.
This is yet another decisive action by Ukraine to maintain its democratic reforms and move towards EU and NATO membership. While it was not made clear if President Zelensky will issue public comment on the arrest of his former ally, the Ukrainian people are now watching to see if other oligarchs will suffer a similar fate