Ukraine president meets tycoon Kolomoisky amid concerns over their business ties

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meets tycoon Igor Kolomoisky in Kiev, Ukraine September 10, 2019. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met business tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky on Tuesday, the president’s office said, the first reported meeting since Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May between the two men who had long-standing business ties.

The president’s relationship with Kolomoisky, one of the richest businessman in Ukraine, has been under heavy scrutiny since the start of Zelenskiy’s election campaign, amid fears that the tycoon may be wielding influence behind the scenes.

Both men deny such suggestions.

The president’s office said in a brief statement that Zelenskiy and Kolomoisky had met to discuss the business climate and the energy sector in Ukraine. It gave no further details.

Zelenskiy, a former comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidential election in April by a landslide on promises to fight corruption and transform Ukrainian politics.

Kolomoisky has been embroiled in a long running legal battle over control of PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, which he used to own before it was nationalized in late 2016.

Zelenskiy has repeatedly denied suggestions that he would help Kolomoisky win back control of PrivatBank or receive compensation.

The saga is closely watched by investors because the International Monetary Fund could freeze aid to Ukraine if the PrivatBank nationalization were reversed

Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Matthias Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones