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Former US secretary of state to join Kyivstar board

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 15, 2023 5:31 PM 2 min read
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a press briefing the White House on Jan. 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will join the board of directors of Kyivstar, the largest mobile service provider in Ukraine, the company's parent company Veon announced on Nov. 14.

"Secretary Pompeo joins in his capacity as a Partner of Impact Investments, a newly established US-based strategic and financial advisory and investment firm which seeks to develop long-term partnerships with the world’s leading companies across a range of industries and geographies," the press release said.

Pompeo served as secretary of state under former President Donald Trump from 2018-2021, having previously been the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2017-2018. He has been a staunch ally of Trump, even after the end of his tenure as president. Pompeo also supported Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Bloomberg reported on Pompeo joining the board, noting that it comes amid Veon's "attempts to restore what it called its corporate rights in Kyivstar."

Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reported on Oct. 6 that it was seizing more than Hr 17 billion ($464 million) in company assets from Russian businessmen Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and Andrei Kosogov.

All three are co-owners of Veon, but the company downplayed their involvement and relevance to the corporate structure in a statement on Oct. 12, saying the three have no "ability to control or influence decisions made by VEON or Kyivstar."

"Any actions aimed at the rights, benefits or funds of the (Fridman, Aven, and Kosogov) cannot legitimately be directed toward Kyivstar or VEON," the statement added.

In addition, it said that changes to the current ownership of Kyivstar are "currently not permitted."

In September 2023, the SBU announced that Fridman was under suspicion of financing the overthrow of the constitutional order and seizure of power.

Born in Lviv, Fridman has Russian and Israeli citizenship and has been living in the UK since 2015.

In December 2022, he was arrested in the U.K. and released on bail on suspicion of fraud-related offenses.

Veon said that it has committed $600 million in investments in Ukraine over the next three years and that it has completely ceased doing business in Russia, finalizing the sale of its Russian subsidiary on Oct. 9, 2023.

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