Ukrainian Executive Who Left Russian Exchange Blames Media

The executive who quit Russia’s primary financial market says he had to leave because of his support for Ukraine in its dispute with the country and media accusations that he manipulated trading.

Roman Sulzhyk, who resigned Friday as OAO Moscow Exchange’s managing director of derivatives, was the target of allegations from media organizations that support the Russian government. Sulzhyk, a Ukrainian citizen, denied in an interview that he rigged trading.

“My mother reads the press and every day takes medicine because her son is being accused of heading an alien invasion of Russia,” Sulzhyk, 40, said by phone from Kiev, Ukraine.

He doesn’t plan to return to Russia soon, and will instead be in Kiev and London. “When such things happen, it’s best to walk away,” he said. “This is absolutely my own decision, I’m on very good terms with the exchange,” he said.

State Duma lawmaker Evgeny Fedorov asked Russia’s investigative committee in December to determine whether Sulzhyk manipulated the ruble during the currency’s collapse, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Dec. 24. Fedorov also wanted to find out whether Sulzhyk engaged in extremist activities by supporting the demonstrations that forced Viktor Yanukovych to step down as Ukrainian president a year ago. Yanukovych was supported by the Russian government. Sulzhyk said he hasn’t heard from the committee.

The accusations appeared as the ruble was posting its biggest annual decline since Russia’s default in 1998, amid falling oil prices and sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union.

No Influence

The Moscow Exchange doesn’t trade and its employees cannot influence prices, the bourse said in an e-mailed statement Friday. All of the exchange’s trading venues operated normally in mid-December as the currency weakened to a record low against the U.S. dollar, the company said.

The Izvestia article noted that Sulzhyk is Ukrainian, not a Russian citizen, and said he participated in anti-government protests in Moscow. Sulzhyk said he did take part in protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies.

Putin, in a Dec. 4 speech, vowed to punish speculators attacking the ruble with “harsh” measures in a defiant speech that reached into Russian history to defend his annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

‘Yellow Press’

In a Dec. 20 article, RIA Novosti asked whether the Moscow Exchange was a “defender of the Russian currency or a Western agent,” and whether Sulzhyk had deliberately damaged the Russian market. The story said Sulzhyk was educated and had worked in the U.S., and had voted in Ukraine’s elections in October.

“This is just yellow press,” he said.

Sulzhyk joined the Moscow Exchange in April 2012, he said. Before that, he worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York and London from 2000 to 2008 as a vice president, and from 2008 to 2011 he headed the rates derivatives trading division of Deutsche Bank AG in Moscow, he said.

Kirill Pestov has been named interim derivatives market head, the Moscow Exchange said in a website statement Friday.

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