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Der Standard: Austria investigating ex-National Bank head who fled Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 7, 2024 1:01 PM 2 min read
Kyrylo Shevchenko delivers a speech in Kyiv during his tenure as Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine on Jan. 21, 2022. (Volodymyr Tarasov/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Austria's Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office is investigating former National Bank Chairman Kyrylo Shevchenko, who fled to Austria from Ukraine in September 2022, Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported on Feb. 6.

The High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Shevchenko in December 2022, after he resigned from the National Bank in October 2022, citing health issues aggravated by "two years of political pressure" in the post.

Shevchenko's charges relate to his tenure between 2014 and 2020 as the chairman of the board of Ukrgasbank. According to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), he is suspected of having organized a corruption scheme to embezzle Hr 206 million ($5.5 million) from the bank.

Austrian courts rejected Ukraine's extradition request due to the ongoing war, but "the crimes that Shevchenko is accused of in Ukraine are also punishable here," Der Standard reported.

Austria's Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor's Office "is now conducting an investigation into breach of trust" against Shevchenko, Der Standard said.

Shevchenko told Der Standard he was the victim of "classic political persecution" and claimed he had refused President Volordymr Zelensky's instructions to adjust the country's monetary policy.

Shevchenko said he had been screened before starting at the National Bank, and the allegations against him relating to his tenure as head of Ukrgasbank are "fabricated."

In the meantime, Shevchenko's asylum application is still being assessed by Austria's Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum.

According to Der Standard, this is likely to be a drawn-out process, since if "Austria approves the asylum application, it would be tantamount to condemning Ukraine."

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