November 24, 2017 / 9:02 PM / a year ago

Exclusive: Ukraine tycoon files suit against AlixPartners over PrivatBank nationalization

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian businessman Ihor Kolomoisky has filed a lawsuit against the New York-based global consulting firm AlixPartners over their work with the Ukrainian central bank around the nationalization of PrivatBank, Kolomoisky told Reuters on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Igor Kolomoisky, billionaire and then-governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region speaks during an interview in May 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

AlixPartners declined comment, and the central bank did not offer any immediate comment.

Kolomoisky is the former co-owner of PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, which was nationalized last December after the central bank found what it said were risky lending practices and a capital shortfall of more than $5.5 billion.

Kolomoisky and the bank’s other main former shareholder, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, have challenged the justification for the nationalization and accuse the central bank of misrepresenting PrivatBank’s finances.

Kolomoisky’s suit, which was filed at the High Court in London on Nov. 20, is one of a myriad of cases and investigations that have sprung up since PrivatBank was taken under state control.

“I am deeply disappointed that my formerly trusted advisors AlixPartners ... have chosen to act against my interests in this way, and that I have been obliged to take legal measures to protect my position,” Kolomoisky said through a representative. 

Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men, says AlixPartners obtained information confidential to him while they were working for his former legal team in an unrelated case, before going on to work for the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) last year.

FILE PHOTO: Igor Kolomoisky, billionaire and then-governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region speaks during an interview in May 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

The work, as Kolomoisky’s side sees it, may include helping attempts by the central bank and PrivatBank to make “recovery claims” against third parties that could include himself.

In a separate emailed statement, the consultancy Gabara Strategies said, on behalf of Kolomoisky’s lawyers, that the work of AlixPartners for PrivatBank and the NBU was “plainly adverse to Mr Kolomoisky’s interests as a former shareholder in PrivatBank”.

“As a result, he has issued proceedings in the High Court in London to seek to protect the confidential information that AlixPartners obtained through their role in the Pinchuk Claim,” the statement said, referring to their earlier work.

Kolomoisky is seeking an injunction to prevent AlixPartners working with the central bank or PrivatBank, and an order requiring AlixPartners to terminate contracts with third parties in relation to the same work.

That includes any contracts with Kroll, the risk consulting firm that the central bank says is working on a forensic report about PrivatBank.

PrivatBank declined to comment, referring questions to the central bank, and Kroll also declined to comment.

Bogolyubov gave notice this month that he may seek compensation for what he called an “unlawful expropriation”, and accused the authorities of a smear campaign.

“After the nationalization, Ukraine has continued to target the bank’s former shareholders with untrue allegations and trawl through the bank’s affairs with outside advisers in an effort to find ex post facto justifications for expropriating the bank without compensation,” the notice said.

Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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