Ukrainian authorities raid home of billionaire Kolomoiskiy
KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian state security officials searched the home of billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoiskiy on Wednesday, in what several media outlets said was an investigation into possible financial crimes.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the reports, and Kolomoiskiy could not be reached for comment.
A senior governing party official confirmed Kolomoiskiy’s home had been searched – as well as that of a former interior minister – but did not state the reason for the search.
Photographs circulating on social media appeared to show Kolomoiskiy, dressed in a sweatsuit, looking on in the presence of at least one SBU officer inside a large wooden home. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.
Kolomoiskiy is one of Ukraine’s richest men and a one-time ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who launched a crackdown on wealthy businessmen known as “oligarchs” in late 2021 – before Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Kolomoiskiy, who is from the central city of Dnipro and owns an array of assets including one of Ukraine’s most influential television channels, backed Zelenskiy’s election campaign in 2019.
Ukrainska Pravda said Wednesday’s search related to an investigation into the alleged embezzlement of oil products and evasion of customs duties, and that it was carried out by the SBU and the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine.
Ukrainian anti-corruption officials are also investigating a case in which they suspect eight people of embezzling assets and funds from a state-controlled oil company formerly tied to Kolomoiskiy.
The United States sanctioned him in 2021 “due to his involvement in significant corruption”. U.S. authorities have also alleged Kolomoiskiy and a business partner laundered stolen funds through the United States. Kolomoiskiy has denied any wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash and Dan Peleschuk, writing by Max Hunder and Dan Peleschuk, Editing by Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage)