The Justice Department has moved to seize property from a powerful Ukrainian oligarch, according to court filings released Thursday. That oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky , has long been seen as allied with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Both men were important characters in the saga that led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
The department filed two civil forfeiture complaints on Thursday: one for an office park in Dallas, and the other for an office tower in Louisville, Ky. The department estimates the properties together are worth $70 million.
The complaints allege that Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, his longtime business partner, embezzled and defrauded billions of dollars from a Ukrainian bank they owned, PrivatBank. The Ukrainian government seized control of the bank in 2016, and the top regulator who led that move subsequently faced a long series of death threats.
“Mr. Kolomoisky emphatically denies the allegations in the complaints filed today by the Department of Justice,” a lawyer for the oligarch said in a statement.
As part of efforts by Rudy Giuliani to push Ukraine’s president to find dirt on Vice President Joe Biden, two then-allies of the former New York Mayor met with Kolomoisky in Tel Aviv in April 2019. Kolomoisky told a Ukrainian media outlet that the two men, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, wanted him to connect Giuliani with Zelensky. Kolomoisky called them “two clowns” and predicted the episode would end in scandal.
The court filings do not charge Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov with any crimes. But the documents allege they stole billions of dollars from the bank, forcing the Ukrainian government to bail it out to stave off an economic crisis.
They also paint a picture of an aggressive and sometimes-dangerous magnate.
“Kolomoisky in particular was known for ruthlessness and even violence that inspired loyalty — while he was governor of Dnipropetrovsk province, he was known to have paid armed goons to take over the offices of a state-owned oil company,” the Dallas filing said. “The employees of the bank understood that management’s instructions were Kolomoisky and Boholiubov’s orders, and orders were followed.”
The two men allegedly used misappropriated funds to buy a number of properties in the U.S., including a steel plant in Kentucky, a commercial high rise in Cleveland and a Motorola manufacturing plant in Illinois, according to the documents. DOJ cited a number of Ukrainian laws that Kolomosiky and Bogolyubov allegedly broke.