Lawyers for two of Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholyubov, have said the London High Court has ordered the freeing of their clients’ assets as the country’s largest bank, PrivatBank, suffers setbacks to attempts to recover billions of dollars it claims were stolen by the two businessmen.
The two owned PrivatBank before the Ukrainian government nationalized it in 2016 and was forced to inject $5.5 billion of taxpayers’ money to replace missing cash. In 2017, PrivatBank succeeded in getting the assets frozen worldwide by proceedings in the London High Court intended as a prelude to a full trial for the oligarchs.
The legal proceedings concerned only whether English courts were the correct jurisdiction for any eventual trial and were not to decide on the guilt or innocence of the two Ukrainian oligarchs. Kolomoisky and Boholyubov deny that billions of dollars of PrivatBank’s money went missing when they were in charge. But they admit to causing $248 million losses to the bank.
England was chosen as Boholyubov has lived in London and three of the companies that allegedly took part in the fraud were registered there. PrivatBank did not want the case tried in Ukraine because it feared the country’s corrupt judiciary might be bribed.
Read more: PrivatBank may have to pay millions to Ihor Kolomoisky
Lawyers for the two businessmen last summer argued that as Boholyubov had moved to Switzerland, where Kolomoisky also lived, and only three of around 130 companies involved were U.K. registered, England was not the correct jurisdiction for the proceedings.
Last month the judge who presided over the summer hearings, Justin Timothy Fancourt, agreed that England was not the correct jurisdiction. And lawyers for the two men said he has ordered the assets to be unfrozen.
Fancourt has provisionally ordered the Ukrainian side to pay Kolomoisky and Boholyubov’s legal fees of some 7.5 million pounds. He gave PrivatBank permission to appeal his decision and the bank said it intends to do so.
Read more: PrivatBank’s court case ends in London, judge to deliver decision in October
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