Ukraine's president nominates new central bank chief

A general view shows the headquarters of the National Bank of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

KYIV, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked parliament on Thursday to approve banker Andriy Pyshnyi, who has helped advise the government on implementing sanctions against Russia, as the new central bank chief.

Pyshnyi is set to replace Kyrylo Shevchenko, who quit on Tuesday citing health reasons and said on Thursday he had been identified as a suspect in an investigation into "illegal activities" at a bank he led before his central bank role.

Shevchenko issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Pyshnyi, 48, is the former head of Ukraine's state-run Oschadbank and has helped advise the government on sanctions against Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, and against Moscow's ally Belarus.

Yaroslav Zheleznyak, the first deputy of parliament's finance, tax and customs policy committee, said on the Telegram messaging app that the committee would consider Pyshnyi's nomination later in the day.

Parliament has formally accepted Shevchenko's resignation and Zheleznyak has said Pyshnyi could be appointed by the end of this week.

Shevchenko issued his statement after the National Anti-Corruption Bureau said five officials had been notified that they were suspected of "illegal activities" that led to the loss of more than 206 million hryvnias ($5.58 million) at Ukraine's Ukrgasbank between 2014 and 2019.

The bureau did not name Shevchenko but said those notified included the person who was chairman of Ukrgasbank until 2019 - a role Shevchenko had at the time.

Shevchenko said in his statement on Facebook that he was abroad having medical treatment, and that he had learnt of the bureau's notification from media.

"I consider the resuscitation of a criminal case which is already 3-1/2 years old, and has not been investigated all this time, to be a manifestation of political persecution and settling of accounts," he said.

He said he had been under political pressure as chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, but Thursday's events were unexpected.

"I am ready to answer for each of my signatures! Because every deal concluded by Ukrgasbank under my leadership was 100% market-based," he said.

He said the "revealed facts" announced by the bureau were based on "premature conclusions made on the basis of hasty and unproven judgments".

Ukrgasbank said in a statement that the bank had carried out "the necessary internal checks", the results of which "did not reveal any violations".

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage, Nick Macfie and Mark Heinrich

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