In an exclusive interview with Kyiv Post, Oleksandr Bornyakov, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Digital Transformation, directly denied that the government endorses Ukraine DAO, an on-line organisation that claims to raise funds for Ukrainian causes through cryptocurrency and pledged to support an investigation of $20 million it has transacted.
“The Ministry of Digital Transformation has not endorsed Ukraine DAO,” Bornyakov told Kyiv Post.
It appears from online records that some $20 million USD has been transferred through Ukraine DAO in the last year. This occurs through Ukraine DAO creating and issuing tokens – such as its $LOVE token – that donors receive as a souvenir of their donation.
The transactions through Ukraine DAO include one for $4 million on Oct. 20, 2022, and daily transactions of over $40,000 each day for over a year.
Crypto experts have told Kyiv Post that the flow of tens of millions of dollars through an obscure crypto created as a donation acknowledgment that is not to be bought or sold is “suspicious”. Such a practice, they believe, “might be money laundering or something otherwise illegal."
DAO’s are ‘decentralized autonomous organisations’ which are essentially platforms for cryptocurrency transactions. They issue different crypto products such as NFTs (non-fungible tokens). DAOs typically have no central decision-maker, but their transactions are visible on-line, such as through blockchains.
When shown evidence that millions have passed through tokens created by Ukraine DAO, the deputy minister expressed his desire to be fully transparent and stated that he and his staff have “decided to help [Kyiv Post] with your investigation.” He also pledged to involve the police.
When asked why Ukraine DAO would publicly claim to be endorsed by the government, Bornyakov said he had no answer. “This is not our statement but theirs, so why do you ask me? Ask Alona [Alona Shevchenko, Ukraine DAO’s front-person]. The Ministry of Digital has not endorsed Ukraine DAO.”
Bornyakov added that it was “weird” that, in many dozens of public statements, Ukraine DAO and Alona Shevchenko had insinuated that there was a close relationship between them, as no such relationship had ever existed.
Ukraine DAO has repeatedly referred to itself as "supported by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine - the first DAO to have been endorsed at the state level”, including on Twitter where its front person, Shevchenko, is active as a seemingly strident Ukrainian activist.
Ukraine DAO is currently fronted by Alona Shevchenko who has tagged the Ministry for Digital Transformation or Boryankov in dozens of her Twitter posts, including pictures of herself with Boryankov. She appears to draw a salary of $5000 per month despite public claims that 100% of money raised is donated.
Shevchenko positions herself as a hard-core Ukrainian nationalist. She has previously been associated with with an array of cryptocurrencies, including GRO DAO (a decentralized finance protocol), ChoiceDAO, and PleasrDAO.
Ukraine DAO has also been headlined by big names, including Russian nationals who were pro-Ukraine, such as Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, Ethereum’s founder, Vitalik Buterin, and his father Dmitry Buterin, who publicly promoted the initiative.
Tolokonnikova subsequently quit Ukraine DAO after learning that Ukraine DAO planned to renege on its public promise to donate “100%” of the money it raised to support Ukraine and has cast strong doubts about Shevchenko. At one point, Ukraine DAO was featured in major news outlets such as Forbes and Yahoo! Finance.
OnlyFans’ owner, Leo Radvinsky, has made the single largest donation to Ukraine DAO, of 500 ETH (roughly $1.3 million USD), from his estimated net worth of USD 2.1 billion. A known fan of NFTs and charitable causes, Radvinsky’s businesses, many of which are in pornography, have earlier been alleged to be under the investigation of “the FBI, following numerous reports of money laundering, suspicious transactions, and underage users,” as one news story summarized.
In response to questions by Kyiv Post, Radvinsky said that he does not know Alona Shevchenko or the $LOVE token. As the largest contributor to DAO, he would have or should have been the largest owner of $LOVE at one point.
When asked why Shevchenko continues to remain listed as an expert on the Ministry’s website, the Deputy Minister indicated that she is one of the “hundreds” of volunteer experts that it has available to train people on how cryptocurrency functions.
During the interview with Kyiv Post, the deputy minister opened his iPhone and showed direct messages (DMs) that Shevchenko had sent him. He allowed Kyiv Post to scroll and read their conversations, including a reply to her saying that he had “already told you” not send him more messages about her Twitter fights with people.
Following the interview, Bornyakov put Kyiv Post in touch with independent Netherlands-based crypto experts of Crystal Blockchain and with a senior Ukrainian law enforcement intelligence official.
When contacted by Kyiv Post that official indicated that there was no basis for an investigation because “no one has filed a complaint” and revealed that Shevchenko is personally known to him. In her social media account, Shevchenko has previously noted that she knows the law enforcement official.
Shevchenko who was contacted multiple times, declined to respond to Kyiv Post's questions in preparation of this piece.
Kyiv Post will be providing further information from its on-going investigations of Ukraine DAO, its significant donors, its connections, and its possible motives.
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