May 18, 2016 / 4:40 PM / 2 years ago

Ukraine court freezes property of owner of insolvent bank

KIEV, May 18 (Reuters) - A Ukrainian court has approved a central bank request to freeze the real estate and moveable property of Ukrainian businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk in connection with the failure by a bank owned by him to repay loans of about $160 million, the regulator said on Wednesday.

Last year parliament introduced laws making owners of banks accountable if their institutions collapse, prompted by an economic crisis that pushed scores of lenders in Ukraine’s overpopulated and shadowy banking sector into bankruptcy.

The central bank said the court had decided to freeze Bakhmatyuk’s property while it considers a lawsuit brought by the central bank over 4 billion hryvnia ($158 million) it lent to Finansova Initsiatyva, which was indirectly owned by 41-year-old Bakhmatyuk. Finansova — one of Ukraine’s top 20 banks — was declared insolvent in June last year.

Bakhmatyuk, also owner of London-listed egg producer Avangardco, is guarantor to the loans, the central bank said.

It did not say what property of Bakhmatyuk’s is affected by the court’s decision.

In emailed comments, a spokeswoman for Bakhmatyuk said he would appeal against the court decision, which she said related to central bank claims worth about 136 million hryvnia ($5.4 million).

The flotation of 20 percent of Avangardco on the London stock market in 2010 put Bakhmatyuk on a Forbes list of the world’s youngest billionaires, but his businesses have struggled to turn a profit since the 2014 separatist uprising in Ukraine hit sales and pushed the country into economic meltdown.

The losses of Avangardco, the largest producer of shell eggs and dry egg products in Europe, deepened to $158 million in 2015 from $26 million in 2014.

Bakhmatyuk, who also owns agriculture holding company UkrLandFarming, is now worth $138 million and is Ukraine’s 28th richest man, according to the most recent data from Forbes Ukraine. ($1 = 25.2300 hryvnias) (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by David Goodman)

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