An officer of the National Bank of Ukraine who issued the controversial reprimand note to Kateryna Rozhkova and Dmytro Sologub has bought a luxury off-road vehicle for ridiculous £11,400. It unlikely was just a coincidence, local business newspaper Delo.ua assumes.
The National Bank of Ukraine has become a battlefield between the newly appointed governor Kyrylo Shevchenko and a couple of professionals of Gontareva era: Kateryna Rozhkova and Dmytro Sologub.
It seems that the two are supported by the IMF. To even the odds against skilled pros, the NBU Governor resorts to all kinds of tricks including ethically questionable ones.
Some updates in the income declarations of certain NBU employees show that the efforts to throw Dmytro Sologub and Kateryna Rozhkova out are generously rewarded. Viktor Grygorchuk, the head of the NBU department involved in the coup to fire Sologub and Rozhkova, bought a Mercedes brand car with an unrealistic discount. It’s more than suspicious that the car has been purchased from a person associated with illegal financial transaction companies.
NBU Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko tries to force the resignation of Rozhkova and Sologub
On October 5, the Council of the National Bank of Ukraine reprimanded Kateryna Rozhkova and Dmytro Sologub due to the suspected violation of the “one voice” policy from their side. The formal cause for this decision was the interview of Sologub and Rozhkova who said that they had to rebuild the International Monetary Fund’s trust in the National Bank of Ukraine almost from scratch. The decision to reprimand two members of the team of former NBU governor Yakiv Smolii was initiated by the current governor Kyrylo Shevchenko.
‘For me, team play is an integral part of success in any position. And communication [with the press] is part of it. As you know, the communication strategy is the basis for the National Bank’s interaction with the society, businesses, and international partners. This strategy was approved even before I started working at the central bank,’ Shevchenko said on the occasion.
Later, it turned out that the NBU Council did not have the authority to issue such a document though. The body has neither a legal department nor a department that would have the right to issue such a reprimand note.
Moreover, the reprimand note is unprecedented in its nature. There were no previous attempts to fire the NBU board members for public statements.
As Delo.ua found out, there were three full-time NBU employees who fabricated the reprimand for Rozhkova and Sologub – Vladyslav Bednenko, Viktor Grygorchuk, and Olexandr Vavdyichyk. All three acted according to the instructions of the NBU governor Kyrylo Shevchenko. All three got bonus payments for their efforts. The whole process was supervised by Shevchenko’s protege and his right-hand man Director of the Office of the Board Alexander Prysyazhnyuk.
Viktor Grygorchuk, the head of the Complaint and Limitation Department of the Judicial Department at NBU, was very interested in retaining his position after the change in the leadership of the legal department. Viktor Grygorchuk got the most difficult (both in the moral and legal sense) part of the work. It seems adequate that his reward consisted not only in a bonus payment.
A well-deserved reward for the paper-clip hero
Two weeks before the reprimand note was issued (i.e., whilst the legal documents had been in the making, and Viktor Grygorchuk’s loyalty to the new leadership had already been proven), Grygorchuk bought a Mercedes-Benz GL 500 SUV. The price for such beauty was too good to be true. According to the official’s declaration, this purchase cost him 423,000 hryvnias which is ~£11,400.
Used car markets in Kyiv rate the price for a car of this age and model at ~£23,000 minimum. The highest bid is ~£50,000. Delo.ua journalists browsed archived ads and found the exact car Grygorchuk has bought.
Here it is: an ad for selling the car.
This particular car was on sale for $33,300 (~£25,230). There was a similar ad at another marketplace https://auto.ria.com/. However, it has already been removed and remains only in the archives. There, the car was listed for $39,300.
The car is one of the top versions of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL 500 with DESIGNO interior and a number of options. Some 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL 500 models with DESIGNO interior can cost up to $50,000-70,000. That is why, it seems unlikely that an regular seller could sell it for 15,000 dollars to Grygorchuk, especially if he had previously tried to sell it for 33,000-39,000 dollars.
Why did Petro Lukianenko, the previous owner of the Mercedes, make such a generous discount to the official?
Benefactor and defendant in criminal proceedings
A person named Lukianenko Petro Yevhenovych is the founder and director of several companies. For example Lukianenko Petro Yevhenovych is the director of Tekhmetrombud LLC.
Tekhmetrombud LLC and Lukianenko are defendants in criminal proceeding No. 42016000000002035 dated 08/04/2016 on the grounds of criminal offenses under Articles 364 and 212 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – abuse of authority or office and tax evasion. According to the case file, Tekhmetprombud LLC is listed among the companies that were the beneficiaries of tax returns resulting from the (fake) business with “dummy companies” – the illegal financial operations in the amount of more than UAH 500 million.
‘During the pre-trial investigation of the criminal proceeding, an organized criminal group was identified. Its members are involved in the implementation of illegal financial mechanisms aimed at illegal conversing of non-cash funds into cash, reducing the tax burden on domestic business entities, and stealing state/budget funds with the assistance of officials of the Main Directorate of the SFS in Kyiv city and Donetsk region. Thus, the organizers of the conversion centre use enterprises with signs of fictitiousness to conclude formal contracts for selling non-existent goods and issue corresponding tax invoices. This way, they place a tax limit on the accounts of a number of enterprises in the Kyiv region only in the SFS database, and that allows the latter to increase gross expenses and evade taxation,’ the court register says.
Despite having such a reputation, Tekhmetprombud LLC won the contract with Kyiv Metro in the amount of UAH 1,294,000 in 2019.
Why was Petro Lukianenko, who is indicated in the declaration of the NBU employee Viktor Grygorchuk as a car seller, so generous that he gave him his Mercedes at half price? The journalists asked Petro Lukianenko himself by calling him by the phone number indicated on the car sales website.
Answering the phone call, Petro said he sold this Mercedes car “far more than for 30 000” dollars. When the journalists asked him why Grygorchuk had declared a car bought from him for $15,000, Petro tried to evade answering directly the question.
‘Whom are you asking this question? Well, it was not me who indicated it in the declaration, ask it (the question) to Grygorchuk … If he indicated 15 in the declaration, then it is 15,’ replied Petro Lukianenko.
At the same time, he began to actively praise Viktor Grygorchuk as an official, repeating several times that there should be more people like him in the civil service.
‘But if you’re talking about Viktor Grygorchuk who works at the National Bank then he’s a wonderful guy to look up to. I have read a lot of his articles, well done, the right person in the right place, from the point of view of the state. Unlike many modern officials,’ said Lukianenko.
When Delo.ua asked him whether he was the director of Tehmetprombud LLC, he replied: ‘Perhaps, why do you need it?’
Delo.ua could not manage to ask Viktor Grygorchuk how it happened that the seller of the car was selling it for more than 30,000 dollars and the NBU official bought it for only 15,000 – by the moment of the publication of the article, he did not answer phone calls.
A top official of the National Bank of Ukraine buys a car at a bargain price or at least half the price from a person involved in criminal proceedings associated with illegal finance and tax evasion for hundreds of millions of hryvnias. He does this just before committing illegal, unlawful and unethical actions in the interests of the new NBU Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko in order to issue the reprimand note to Kateryna Rozhkova and Dmytro Sologub.
Such practices at the National Bank seem like a thing from the past. However, no reforms are irreversible. The essence of the NBU reforms that have been carried out since 2015 in constant partnership with the IMF and other international financial institutions was to eliminate conflicts of interest and to eliminate multi-layered corruption structures at the level of management mechanisms. It seems that dismantling these reforms became the main policy of the new NBU Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko.