NABU investigates fact of acquisition of EUR 62 mln by Citycommerce Bank involving Avakov, Gontareva
NABU is investigating the case of the possible involvement of Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov and former Governor of the National Bank Valeriya Gontareva in the illegal acquisition of EUR 62 million by Citycommerce Bank, the proceeding was opened by decision of the High Anti-Corruption Court.
"On December 1, 2020, in pursuance of the ruling of the investigating judge of the High Anti-Corruption Court of November 27, 2020 in case No. 991/9656/20, the National Bureau launched an investigation in criminal proceedings on the grounds of a criminal offense under Part 2 of Article 364-1 of the Criminal Code on the fact abuse of powers by officials of Citycommerce Bank with the possible assistance of officials of public authorities during financial transactions using correspondent accounts opened by the specified banking institution in Meinl Bank Aktiengesellschaft [Austria], which caused grave consequences to Citycommerce Bank," NABU gave response to the request of Interfax-Ukraine.
As reported, at the end of April 2016, the National Bank of Ukraine, as part of measures to prevent unproductive capital outflows, ensured the termination of cooperation between Ukrainian banks and transit banks. In particular, since April 1, 2016, the NBU has banned banks from placing funds on correspondent accounts of Meinl, Frick, East-West United Bank and Winter & Co. Previously, the names of these banks have repeatedly appeared in the media as channels for the withdrawal of bank funds outside Ukraine.
In February 2019, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office in Austria, as part of an investigation into the laundering of Ukrainian money through Meinl Bank, contacted 30 people and one association. The names of the suspects in the Austrian prosecutor's office were not named, but it is known that among them there are citizens of Ukraine. The criminal proceedings refer to the disappearance of money from the correspondent accounts of Ukrainian banks in Austria.
According to the Deposit Guarantee Fund for Individuals, $385 million and EUR 75 million were illegally withdrawn from correspondent accounts in Meinl Bank. This money was sent as directed by the owners or top management of bankrupt banks to offshore in 2014-2015, as a rule, before the introduction of a temporary administration into problem banks. In particular, through Meinl Bank, $38 million were withdrawn from Pivdenkombank, $40 million from Terra Bank, $39.5 million from VAB Bank, EUR 62 million from Citycommerce Bank and $44 million from Kyivska Rus Bank.
The money withdrawal scheme was as follows: a bank in Austria, at the direction of the owner of a Ukrainian bank, issues loans to offshore companies controlled by Ukrainians. These loans are guaranteed by funds in the correspondent accounts of the Ukrainian bank in the foreign bank that gives the loan. In the end, the loan is not returned and the "guarantee" funds from the correspondent account of the Ukrainian bank are taken as collateral by the Austrian bank. These types of transactions are not illegal in themselves, but they are often used for money laundering.
In addition to Austria, investigations on suspicion of money laundering by Ukrainian banks are being carried out in Liechtenstein. According to the Deposit Guarantee Fund for Individuals, the money was withdrawn through Bank Frick and Co.