NBU Board ready to act as guarantor of former Central Bank employees in VAB Bank case
Members of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) board have arrived at the building of the Kyiv-based High Anti-Corruption Court, which is to decide on measures of restraint and bail for former NBU employees accused by the National Anti-corruption Bureau (NABU) of misusing a stabilization loan issued to VAB Bank in 2014.
"Our goal is to act as a guarantor in this case during hearings on a preliminary measure of restraint," First $deputy Governor of the NBU Kateryna Rozhkova said, according to an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent.
The board wants to demonstrate that it will protect the institutional nature of its decisions, she said.
As reported, NABU agents jointly with prosecutors of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office on November 11-12 officially announced that ex-first deputy governor of the National Bank Oleksandr Pysaruk, member of the NBU Council Mykola Kalensky, ex-director of the NBU banking supervision department Alla Shulha are suspected of taking possession of a stabilization loan issued by the National Bank to VAB Bank in the amount of UAH 1.2 billion.
Law enforcers said they would ask the court to detain them or set bail at between UAH 2.5 million and UAH 30 million.
Altogether, there are eight suspects, former officials of VAB Bank — the head of the supervisory board, the deputy head of the bank's board and three officials of private companies affiliated with the bank's beneficial owners. They are charged with taking possession of property by abuse of office. This article provides the punishment in the form of imprisonment of up to 12 years.
NABU says the Board of the National Bank in October 2014 unlawfully decided to lend funds to VAB Bank, which was considered to be problematic. The declared cost of the property transferred as collateral on the loan was almost 25 times higher.
Forty days after the loan was issued, the NBU in November 2014 recognized VAB Bank to be insolvent, and on March 20, 2015 it decided to cancel VAB's banking license and launched its liquidation.
According to the NBU, as of early October 2014, VAB Bank ranked 16th in terms of assets (UAH 23.97 billion) among 166 banks operating in the country. Its owner, businessman Oleh Bakhmatiuk, the majority shareholder of the agricultural holdings UkrLandFarming and Avangard, repeatedly asked the Deposit Guarantee Fund and the NBU to let him restructure the debt, but the National Bank rejected his offers and now demands immediate recovery of the debt related to the refinancing loan.
Pysaruk came to the National Bank to work as first deputy governor at the invitation of the then Governor of the National Bank Valeriya Gontareva. She is now working in London and refuses to come to the prosecutor's office for questioning in the Serhiy Kurchenko case in Ukraine. She claims the charges against her are trumped-up and offers to testify in London.
Pysaruk has been working in the banking sector for over 25 years. He held the position of first deputy governor at the NBU until the end of 2015. Prior to joining the NBU, he was the head of the board of directors at CJSC ING Bank (Eurasia) (Russia, ING Group). From January 2001 to June 2007, he served as head of the board of ING Bank Ukraine. In June 2016, Pysaruk became a senior expert of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the financial sector, and since October 2019, he has been working as head of the board of Raiffeisen Bank Aval, the largest bank with foreign capital in the Ukrainian market.
Only incumbent NBU Governor Yakiv Smolii has remained on board since the NBU's previous board appointed in October 2014. He replaced Gontareva in March 2018.
When the stabilization loan was issued to VAB Bank, Kalensky headed the NBU's head office in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region. Prior to that, he was head of the State Customs Service, deputy minister and secretary of the Ministry of Finance, head of the Main Audit Office of Ukraine. Before his appointment as member of the NBU Council in April 2018, Kalensky was director of the NBU's central repository.