High Court grants $2.5bn freezing order against Ukraine oligarchs

Courtney Goldsmith
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PrivatBank was nationalised in 2016 (Source: Getty)

A High Court judge has granted an order to freeze $2.5bn (£1.9bn) of worldwide assets of the former owners of Ukrainian state-owned lender PrivatBank.

PrivatBank, which was previously owned by oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov, has claimed the two took almost $2bn from the bank through a series of "dishonest transactions".

The freezing order against Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, as well as against six companies they are believed to own or control, was announced late last night.

"PrivatBank is confident that the English court will determine its claims fairly and objectively and that it will succeed in recovering funds that have been misappropriated from it," it said.

Richard Lewis, a lawyer with Hogan Lovells, which represents PrivatBank, said the move was an "important first step for the bank in its efforts to recover money that was misappropriated".

"Mr. Justice Nugee held that the bank has a good arguable case that they defrauded the bank through a series of dishonest transactions and there is a real risk that they will seek to dissipate their assets if not restrained from doing so by court order."

The freezing order could include Kolomoisky's 27.4 per cent stake in London-listed JKX Oil & Gas, which in 2016 saw nine board members ousted amid a battle with the board.

Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov have challenged the justification for the nationalisation of PrivatBank in late 2016 and have accused the Ukraine's central bank of misrepresenting the state of PrivatBank’s finances.​

Read more: Ukraine's central bank pulls plug on PwC bank audit rights over PrivatBank

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