Ex-Privatbank CEO Named as Suspect in $5.5 Billion Fraud Case

Ukraine said three former senior managers at the country’s biggest bank are suspects in a $5.5 billion fraud, signaling efforts to bring criminal liability in the long-standing probe may be intensifying.

The case is a litmus test of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s willingness to crack down on corruption that’s dogged the ex-Soviet republic since the fall of communism. Privatbank’s previous owners -- tycoons Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov -- are fighting legal efforts by the government to recoup bail-out cash in several jurisdictions. They deny wrongdoing.

Prosecutors on Tuesday named former Chief Executive Officer Oleksandr Dubilet along with his first deputy, Volodymyr Yatsenko, as suspects in the embezzlement of 136 million hryvnia ($4.8 million) in 2016 -- the year Privatbank was nationalized following the discovery of a huge hole in its balance sheet.

Yatsenko was detained on Monday trying to flee abroad, while local media reported that Dubilet is in Israel. Prosecutors didn’t name the third person. Bloomberg was unable to reach Dubilet or Yatsenko for comment.

Zelenskiy has vowed to claw back the state’s rescue funds -- something foreign donors including the International Monetary Fund also want, though there’s been little progress so far.

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