At least one thing in Ukraine shows enviable stability from year to year – the list of the wealthiest Ukrainians.
According to the latest ranking of the 100 richest Ukrainians, published by popular weekly magazine Novoye Vremya on Oct. 31, the country’s six richest men remained the same from to 2018, though all have seen significant decreases to their wealth, a continuation of trends from the past five related to the conflict in Donbas and signaling a shift away from collusion with the oligarchs under Ukraine’s previous presidential administrations.
They all are billionaires.
Rinat Akhmetov remains Ukraine’s richest man. With a fortune estimated at $9.63 billion, his holdings include his industrial behemoth System Capital Management, stakes in mining and steel firm Metinvest group and energy firm DTEK, as well as media holds and the football club Shakhtar Donetsk. However, Forbes estimated Akhmetov’s fortune much lower at $5.7 billion.
Even while his wealth decreased by 21% this year, Akhmetov has remained at the top of the list since 2006, when the wealth rankings were first published by Kyiv Post and Korrespondent magazine.
Akhmetov consolidated his wealth thanks to long-time ties with Ukraine’s top officials, including fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country in 2014 after EuroMaidan Revolution, the Kyiv Post reported. Since then Akhmetov’s fortune has declined, but he still remains Ukraine’s richest man.
“He (Akhmetov) owns more than a quarter of the entire fortune of the 100 richest Ukrainians,” Novoye Vremya wrote in an article on the rating.
With a difference of $7.32 billion, Akhmetov is followed by another metallurgy magnate, Victor Pinchuk, founder of the steel producer Interpipe. Pinchuk’s fortune is estimated at $2.31 billion, though it has also significantly declined and is 14% lower than in 2018.
Pinchuk also owns media, including ICTV and STB channels, as well as Bank Credit Dnipro and philanthropic initiatives Pinchuk Art Centre and the ANTIAIDS Foundation in Kyiv, both run by his wife Olena Pinchuk, a daughter of Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s second president.
In third place is pro-Russian oligarch Vadim Novinsky, owner of Smart Holding Group investing in mining, oil and gas, banking, agriculture, retail, shipbuilding and real estate. His assets are estimated at $1.76 billion, 22% less than last year.
Ukrainian oligarchs Ihor Kolomoisky and his business partner Gennadiy Boholyubov have switched places since last year, taking fourth and fifth place respectively with fortunes of $1.48 billion and $1.37 billion.
The fortunes of both oligarchs also declined this year, with Kolomoisky’s wealth was cut by 8% and Boholyubov reduced by 16%.
While Kolomoisky owns 1+1 Channel and is a long-time associate of Zelensky, the Kolomoisky-Boholyubov tandem owe their fortunes to stakes in PrivatGroup business, which have been significantly diminished after auditors discovered a $5.5 billion hole in PrivatBank’s books in 2016 and the bank was nationalized to prevent its collapse.
Kolomoisky is fighting for the bank’s return through the courts, jeopardizing continued cooperation with the IMF and increasing threats to the macroeconomic financial stability of the country.
However, in an encouraging sign for Ukraine’s economic stability (not to mention the state of corruption in the country), the Zelensky administration said it opposes the banks return to its previous owners on Oct. 23, a move that signals the administration’s efforts to distance itself from the oligarchs.
Former President Petro Poroshenko is the last billionaire in the ranking and the only one who has not lost wealth in the last year. Rather, Poroshenko is 21% richer, with an additional $1.25 billion thanks to his key asset, confectionery factory Roshen. As a self-respecting Ukrainian oligarch, Poroshenko also has his own media broadcaster – Channel 5.
Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of oil and gas company Burisma Holdings which is entangled in the ongoing Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal, also made it into the top 10 richest Ukrainians.
According to Novoye Vremya, which composed the rankings with the help of Dragon Capital investment company, the hundred wealthiest Ukrainians own a total of $34.8 billion, $2.7 billion less than a year ago. $30.6 billion lies with the 50 richest.
“The value of the assets of the 100 richest Ukrainians is equivalent to 23% of Ukraine’s GDP,” wrote the magazine.
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