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The Sixth Court of Appeal in Kyiv refused to let oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky-linked companies off the hook in the PrivatBank case on Dec. 14.
The decision is a blow to Triantal Investments, a Cyprus-based firm that's under Kolomoisky's control, according to the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). The company used to own over 16.7% of PrivatBank, Ukraine's biggest lender.
Kolomoisky used to co-own PrivatBank, which was nationalized in 2016 after the government found a $5.5 billion hole in its balance sheet. The hole was allegedly caused by rampant insider lending and dubious money transfers to related companies, including ones that are based overseas.
The NBU in December 2016 established a list of entities allegedly related to Kolomoisky. It was to convert the deposits of the oligarch’s business partners into the banks’ shares (bail-in procedure). The people deemed associates of the bank’s former owners have been disputing this NBU decision for years.
On April 18, 2019, the Kyiv District Administrative Court issued two separate decisions in Kolomoisky's favor. First, it ruled that the nationalization of PrivatBank was illegal. Second, it granted Triantal's motion to invalidate the NBU's list of related parties. The central bank appealed both decisions.
On Dec. 14, the appellate court overturned the administrative court's second decision, reviving the related party list. That case is now closed.
The Kyiv Administrative District Court is widely seen by pro-reform activists as the most corrupt judicial institution in Ukraine.
The battle over PrivatBank has gone on for close to five years in six different countries, including Ukraine, the U.K., Cyprus, Israel, the U.S. and Switzerland.
In Ukraine, Kolomoisky and his alleged business associates such as the Surkis brothers have been on the offensive, filing hundreds of court cases challenging the legality of nationalization and the bank's subsequent bail-in, when deposits were converted into shares.
Overseas, PrivatBank has scored important legal victories against Kolomoisky in London. Most recently, the bank sued Kolomoisky for $600 million in Israel.