U.S. blacklists Ukraine's Kolomoisky over alleged corruption

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Friday said it designated former Ukrainian public official Igor Kolomoisky as ineligible to enter the United States, accusing him of involvement in significant corruption during his time in office.

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian and U.S. state flags fly in central Kiev, Ukraine September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement accused Kolomoisky, once the governor of the province of Dnipropetrovsk, close to the border with Russia, of using his office as a governor for personal benefit.

“While this designation is based on acts during his time in office, I also want to express concern about Kolomoyskyy’s current and ongoing efforts to undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes and institutions, which pose a serious threat to its future,” Blinken said, using another spelling of the Ukrainian’s name.

Kolomoisky did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office declined to comment.

Kolomoisky was regarded as one of the strongest backers in Ukraine’s business community of Zelenskiy, a former comedian who once had a show on a television channel controlled by the oligarch.

In 2019, Kolomoisky told Ukrainian media that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two business associates of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then a top political advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump, had visited him in Israel seeking to arrange a meeting between Giuliani and Zelenskiy.

A source familiar with the activities of Giuliani and Kolomoisky said Giuliani himself - who was trying to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter during the election campaign - subsequently approached the Ukrainian.

Parnas and Fruman currently face charges filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleging they conspired to violate U.S. laws restricting political donations and contributions by foreign nationals. Law enforcement sources have said that U.S. investigators are looking at their contacts with Giuliani.

A U.S. lawyer for Kolomoisky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kolomoisky and associates also controlled one of Ukraine’s largest financial institutions, PrivatBank. Allegations that they looted the bank sparked major investigations in both Ukraine and the United States.

Friday’s move by the State Department also barred Kolomoisky’s wife and children from entering the United States.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Mark Hosenball and Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bill Berkrot