Ukraine's new central bank chief vows to ensure its independence

A general view shows the headquarters of the National Bank of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
  • New central bank chief approved by parliament
  • His predecessor resigned on Tuesday
  • New chief: banking system working seamlessly despite war

KYIV, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Ukraine's new central bank chief vowed on Friday to protect its independence and hailed the country's banking system for continuing to work "seamlessly" though the war with Russia.

Andriy Pyshnyi, a banker who has helped advise the government on sanctions against Russia, was approved as head of the National Bank of Ukraine in a parliamentary vote after being nominated by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

"The challenges facing our state, its economy, financial and banking sectors are unprecedentedly many today," Pyshnyi, 48, said in a statement on the central bank's website.

"But for eight months now, the banking system of Ukraine, like the entire country, has not simply resisted full-scale military aggression. It is working. Seamlessly and continuously. I believe it is necessary to pay tribute to these efforts and continue to work on preserving and improving its work."

He gave few details of his plans in the statement but added: "As Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, my absolute priority will be to ensure an institutionally strong and independent regulator. After all, it is of crucial importance for ensuring macroeconomic and financial stability."

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

Pyshnyi replaced 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 later issued a statement denying wrongdoing.

Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a senior member of parliament, said Pyshnyi had largely supported the central bank's current course in a speech on Friday to parliament, which has been working behind closed doors since Russia's invasion.

Zheleznyak, the first deputy chairman of parliament's finance, tax and customs policy committee, said Pyshnyi had said he considered the refinancing rate of 25% to be "adequate", and that the current official hryvnia exchange rate "corresponds to current economic realities".

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Toby Chopra

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