The Pechersk Kyiv Court has arrested Rinat Akhmetov’s shares in monopoly fixed-phone operator Ukrtelecom and its subsidiary TriMob, “protecting the interests of the state and seeking to refund the loss,” while investigating the companies’ involvement in misappropriation of state funds.

The court decision involving Ukrtelecom’s majority stake belonging to Akhmetov’s System Capital Management holding came after request by Ukrainian General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, whose prosecutors are investigating possible embezzlement connected with the Ukrtelecom privatization in 2011 during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovich, who fled the nation for Russian exile in 2014 at the height of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

Lutsenko says the agency’s organized crime department is investigating the provision of Hr 220 million ($8 million) from the Ukrainian national budget ordered by Yanukovych and the privatization of 93 percent of shares in Ukrtelecom at a price discounted by Hr 1.6 billion ($59 million).


SCM, however, denies the allegations, saying that the holding did not participate in the Ukrtelecom privatization and bought 92 percent shares from Ukrainian-registered ESU, a cellular network builder and subsidiary of Austrian-based EPIC Invest.

“The company is interested in objective and independent investigation of all the circumstances of Ukrtelecom privatization,” reads SCM’s official statement. “SCM will certainly defend its ownership rights.”

The company claims it hasn’t received any official documents regarding arrest of the shares, and hence continues working normally.

On March 1, Ukrtelecom shut off network in occupied Donetsk after Russian-backed forces seized control of the company’s Donetsk office.

At that time, the company had cut the area off from the national network as it had lost centralized control over the occupied Ukrainian territories in Donetsk Oblast. Internet and telephone services for almost 200,000 people went dead.

Kyiv Post staff writer Denys Krasnikov can be reached at [email protected].

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