Privatbank, In Amended Complaint, Claims Kolomoyskiy, Partner Laundered Nearly $800 Million

Privatbank, the Ukrainian lender nationalized by the state in 2016, now claims its former owners laundered nearly $800 million through the United States.

After analyzing additional bank records, Privatbank filed an amended complaint in a Delaware court on July 21 against tycoons Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Hennadiy Boholyubov, claiming the men laundered $660 million through a group of U.S. companies called Optima and an additional $100 million through other U.S. entities.

The Kyiv-based lender is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the tycoons.

Privatbank filed its original Delaware lawsuit against the two men in May 2019, accusing them of laundering about $623 million in the United States. The case is ongoing.

The majority of the increase relates to $86 million that Privatbank claims was laundered by the men between 2008 and 2010 into two offshore accounts held by an arm of Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-based investment bank.

Privatbank has been at the center of a fight between the National Bank of Ukraine and Kolomoyskiy, who is one of Ukraine's most powerful tycoons. The fight had held up international lending to Ukraine.

Kolomoyskiy's media holding backed the campaign of comic-turned-politician Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won the April 2019 presidential election in a landslide, raising concerns the tycoon has enhanced his influence in Kyiv.

Kolomoyskiy and Boholyubov owned and controlled Privatbank until December 2016, when the state nationalized it amid fears it would soon collapse due to a capital shortfall of $5.5 billion.

The National Bank accused the tycoons of using Privatbank as their personal piggy bank, claiming that more than 90 percent of its loan book went to related parties.

The Delaware lawsuit claims the tycoons acquired hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets in the United States, including real estate and steel companies, through fraudulent loans issued by Privatbank to various companies controlled by the two men.

The money was then laundered in the United States through a dizzying array of transactions, the lawsuit claims.

PrivatBank said in the complaint it had received "no consideration in exchange for these transfers, and the loans associated with the transfers were never actually repaid."

Kolomoyskiy and Boholyubov deny the accusations and claim the takeover was politically motivated.

They have sued in various courts to regain control of the bank and for compensation.

Ukraine in May cut off the first option, passing a law that blocks former owners from acquiring banks that were bailed out by the state.

The law, sometimes referred to as the "anti-Kolomoyskiy bill," was a requirement to receive funding from the International Monetary Fund.

Western officials and lending institutions want Ukraine to recoup some of the billions in losses borne by the state that they claim were caused by the tycoons' actions.

The two men, so far, have not faced any criminal charges.