On March 5, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States is imposing sanctions on Ihor Kolomoisky, a prominent Ukrainian Oligarch, for his alleged involvement in efforts to undermine the democratic process and institution.
From 2014 to 2015, Kolomoisky was the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region and during his time as a public official, he undermined Ukraine’s democratic foundation and used his power for personal gain. While he is no longer a public official, Blinken maintained “concern about Kolomoyskyy’s current and ongoing efforts to undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes and institutions, which pose a serious threat to its future.”
The U.S. has always kept a watchful eye on Kolomoisky as he emerged as a powerful figure for his involvement in funding and developing an effective paramilitary unit to combat the Russian military involvements.
In a separate investigation, the Justice Department has been looking into his alleged involvement in money laundering and embezzlement. In 2020, the DOJ filed three civil forfeiture complaints in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Florida concerning his property in Dallas, Texas and Louisville, Kentucky, and Cleveland, Ohio on embezzlement and money laundering allegations.
The complaint alleges that these properties were purchased using embezzled money from PrivateBank, one of the largest banks in Ukraine. Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov both owned the bank to which they “defrauded the bank of billions of dollars.” Kolomoisky and Bohliuboy directed their associates in Miami, Florida, to create “a web of entities, usually under some variation of the name ‘Optima,’ to further launder the misappropriated funds and invest them.” Once they laundered the money, they used it to purchase real estate in Texas, Ohio, and Kentucky. The properties combined are worth $60 million. The Justice Department succeeded in seizing his property in Cleveland.
The Washington Post also reported that Cleveland authorities previously opened an investigation into his involvement in money laundering. Kolomoisky maintains his innocence and denies any wrongdoing.
Placing him on a sanctions list is how the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to “supporting political, economic, and justice sector reforms that are key to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic path.” Sanctioning is an act to promote accountability for corrupt figures.
This sanction is part of the Biden administration’s effort to combat corruption. Previously, former-President Donald Trump attempted to fight corruption in Ukraine by withholding military aid. However, his real intention was not to fight corruption, but to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate then-candidate Biden’s potential damaging ties to Ukraine. Coincidentally, Kolomoisky was a major supporter of Zelensky campaign.