By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — A court in the Ukrainian capital ordered bail of nearly $14 million for powerful businessman Ihor Kolomoyskiy, who was detained after he was named a suspect in a fraud and money-laundering case, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government appeared to be stepping up efforts to meet Western demands to tackle alleged corruption.
If Kolomoyskiy is unable to meet the bail conditions, the Shevchenkivskiy District Court ruled that the oligarch be held in pretrial detention for at least two months.
Kolomoyskiy’s lawyers said the businessman would appeal the court decision and would not be posting bail. Kolomoyskiy could not be reached for comment.
In television video, Kolomoyskiy was later seen being led away in a tracksuit jacket
“Under the procedural guidance of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the [SBU State Security Service] and the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine notified the well-known oligarch of suspicion of legalizing fraudulently obtained property,” the Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a statement.
Without naming Kolomoyskiy, Zelenskiy on September 2 thanked law enforcement for bringing long-running cases to justice.
“I thank Ukrainian law enforcement officials for their resolve in bringing to a just outcome each and every one of the cases that have been hindered for decades,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
Kolomoyskiy, a billionaire who made his wealth in the 1990s scooping up former state assets, has been accused by critics of using overly aggressive business practices, including sending armed men to take over companies.
He has owned banks, energy firms, and other companies, including one of Ukraine’s most influential television channels, which backed Zelenskiy’s election campaign in 2019. The channels had also broadcast a TV series that starred Zelenskiy, who was a comedian and actor before becoming president.
The United States filed a civil forfeiture cases against Kolomoyskiy in 2020, alleging he laundered hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase U.S. commercial real estate. Those cases have been stayed at the request of the U.S. government to avoid disclosing witnesses in a related criminal case it is pursuing against the tycoon.
In 2021, the State Department banned Kolomoyskiy and his family from traveling to the United States, accusing him of corruption while serving as governor of the Dnipro region in 2014-15. The U.S. actions were seen as a signal to Kyiv to go after Kolomoyskiy for money laundering and corruption.
In February, agents from the SBU and the Bureau of Economic Security carried out searches of the homes of Kolomoyskiy and former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov in a separate matter — an alleged embezzlement case worth over $1 billion — in what appeared to be part of efforts to root out corruption amid the battle to repel invading Russian forces.
The billionaire has denied any wrongdoing. Last year, he was reportedly deprived of Ukrainian citizenship by Zelenskiy, though there has been no confirmation by either side.
The loss of Ukrainian citizenship — if true — could open the door to Ukraine extraditing Kolomoyskiy to the United States should the Department of Justice eventually charge him with money laundering in a criminal case. Ukraine does not extradite its own citizens.
The nearly $14 million bail demand roughly matches the amount the SBU accused Kolomoyskiy of withdrawing from the country.
“It was established that during 2013-20, Ihor Kolomoyskiy legalized more than half-a-billion hryvnyas (about $14 million) by withdrawing them abroad and using the infrastructure of banks under [his] control,” the SBU said in a statement.
Zelenskiy has vowed to crack down on corruption — especially among the nation’s wealthy oligarchs — amid criticism from his Western backers in the war.
Kolomoysky’s supporters say the actions against the businessman are an effort by Zelenskiy to show the West he is meeting their demands on alleged corruption.