The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the General Prosecutor’s Office have imposed an arrest on assets of Ukrainian oligarch Vadym Novynskyi, the founder of the Smart Holding Group. This includes the corporate rights of 40 Ukrainian enterprises and 30 gas deposits, with a declared value of $95 million (over Hr. 3.5 billion) as reported by the SBU on April 13. Novynskyi has been accused of collaboration with the Russian Federation.
In December 2022, the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine (NDSC) imposed personal economic sanctions on a number of high-level priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). Novynskyi, is a known long-term supporter of the UOC-MP, within which he was ordained a deacon. He has strongly opposed the eviction of the UOC-MP from Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra complex, which in recent weeks has come to encapsulate the tug of war between the government and the pro-Russian church.
On March 14 Novynskyi, writing on his official website, claimed the Zelensky administration is applying “Neo-Bolshevism against the Church.” He alleged that “The Ukrainian authorities continue to follow the path of establishing a dictatorship in the country, justifying their steps by the war with Russia. At the same time, official propaganda says at every step that Ukraine is at the forefront of the struggle for democracy.”
In order to avoid sanctions, Novynskyi attempted to re-register his industrial assets to foreigners affiliated with aggressor state, with the assistance of notaries and state registrars under his control, as reported by the SBU. The Ministry of Justice has already taken action to cancel some of these registration acts.
The SBU searched a number of premises of companies associated with Novynskyi. Smart Holding Group confirmed the searches had taken place but called the criminal case against Novynskyi “completely groundless.”
“Such systematic actions from law enforcement agencies… are destructive. Their sole purpose is to block assets in the interests of certain groups. The search warrant does not contain any specific facts or substantiated legal grounds. Moreover, the case was filed based on a statement from a private company owned by an individual who is in long-term corporate conflict with Smart-Holding, which has nothing to do with the stated reasons for the investigation,” declared a Group spokesperson.
The main object of this pressure is the Group’s gas producing asset, Smart Energy, the Group added.
In November 2022, Novynskyi placed his ownership shares in the Group into a trust registered with the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, as the Group reported in its official statement in January 2023. Since then, the Group says that Novynskyi holds no beneficial interest in the Group, nor exercises any control over its activities.
The last time that Novynskyi was seen in public, was in Zurich, Switzerland earlier this month, serving in the church of the Moscow Patriarchate, as reported by Radio Liberty Ukraine.
In July 2022, he resigned as a of the Ukrainian parliament.
In April 2023, Forbes USA estimated that Novynskyi had assets worth $1.4 billion
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