Billionaire Kolomoisky at Heart of $380 Million Asset Freeze

  • Tatneft sued Ukranian billionaires for taking money in 2009
  • Kolomoisky, Boholiubov recently settled $2 billion suit

One of Ukraine’s most powerful business tycoons is among four prominent businessmen facing a $380 million worldwide freezing order that ties up property including his luxury French villa, months after he settled a multi-billion-pound claim in an unrelated case in British courts.

Igor Kolomoisky and fellow billionaire Hennadii Boholiubov are accused by Tatneft, a Russian oil company, of illegally seizing control of a refinery joint venture in Ukraine and siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars into their shell companies, according to documents filed at a London court. Two wealthy associates of the Ukrainians were named by state-controlled Tatneft in the suit that is seeking more than $334 million from the men.

"This is a stale claim, concerning historic events," Ali Malek, Boholiubov’s lawyer, said in a London court Friday. "We submit there is a real possibility that the claim is time-barred."

The order signed by a London judge includes assets like a private jet, a boat and properties in England and France. Kolomoisky’s French villa, which sits on one hectare, and another 50 acres in the Haute Savoie region is part of the order.

Several of Boholiubov’s expensive London properties are subject to the order, including a house on Belgrave Square near the gates of Buckingham Palace worth over 4 million pounds ($5.7 million) according to property website Zoopla. The March 22 order permits the men to have as much as 5,000 pounds ($7,190) in weekly living expenses.

Oil Dispute

Tatneft confirmed the suit against the two men as well as Alexander Yaroslavsky and Pavel Ovcharenko. They are accused of fraudulently taking money in 2009 that the Tatneft was entitled to for oil shipped to the Kremenchug refinery, the company said in a statement. Ovcharenko didn’t have lawyers present at Friday’s court hearing.

Lawyers for Boholiubov and Kolomoisky didn’t immediately comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Ukrtatnafta refinery, where Ovcharenko is the chief executive officer, declined to comment on his behalf. A spokesperson for Yaroslavsky declined to immediately comment.

Kolomoisky is one of Ukraine’s most influential businessmen and was a regional governor until 2015. He supplied vital funding and fighters for Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country, but fell out with President Petro Poroshenko last year over Kolomoisky’s efforts to control the state oil company. 

Ukrainian Ties

His ouster as governor was seen as a milestone in the president’s efforts to rein in the power of other business tycoons. Kolomoisky also owns one of Ukraine’s largest financial firms, Privat Bank.

Boholiubov and Kolomoisky settled a $2 billion dispute with fellow Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk in January, days before a trial was scheduled to start in a London court. The suit related to the March 2005 purchase of Alcross Commercial Ltd.

Ukraine magazine Novoe Vremya said in October that Kolomoisky is worth $1.9 billion while Boholiubov has declared total assets of $1.2 billion as the result of the freezing order, Richard Millett, Tatneft’s lawyer, said in court Friday.

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