May 23, 2019 / 8:13 AM / 2 days ago

Ukraine's PrivatBank launches suit against former owner Kolomoisky in U.S.

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s largest lender, PrivatBank, has filed a lawsuit against former owner Ihor Kolomoisky in the Delaware Court of Chancery in the United States, the bank said in a statement on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Logo of PrivatBank, the Ukraine's biggest lender, is seen on a bank's branch in Kiev, Ukraine April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal battles between Kolomoisky and the Ukrainian authorities which nationalized PrivatBank in 2016 as part of a clean-up of the banking system.

The bank accuses Kolomoisky and his associates of the misappropriation and laundering of proceeds of corporate loans issued by PrivatBank while he owned it.

Kolomoisky did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously dismissed the allegations as “nonsense” and launched his own lawsuits against the government.

The case has taken on additional significance since the election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine’s new president in April.

Zelenskiy has longstanding business ties to Kolomoisky and has repeatedly denied suggestions he would try to give PrivatBank back to Kolomoisky or pay state compensation to the tycoon for the loss of his bank.

“PrivatBank is seeking redress in respect of losses amounting to hundreds of millions of United States dollars, which PrivatBank asserts it has suffered as a result of various unlawful acts perpetrated against it by its former owners,” PrivatBank said in a statement.

It comes two days after Zelenskiy appointed Andriy Bogdan, who served as one of Kolomoisky’s lawyers in the legal battles over PrivatBank, as the head of the presidential administration.

One of Ukraine’s wealthiest men, Kolomoisky says PrivatBank was nationalized without justification.

A Kiev court ruled in favor of Kolomoisky in April by declaring that the nationalization process had been illegal. The central bank is appealing the decision in a higher court.

The central bank says overturning the nationalization would derail Ukraine’s $3.9 billion program with the International Monetary Fund and rock investor confidence.

PrivatBank also launched a case in a London court to try to recover money it says was lost to fraud on Kolomoisky’s watch. A judge ruled the court had no jurisdication over the case. PrivatBank expects an appeal to be heard this year.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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