The Justice Department moved to seize the U.S. assets of a Ukrainian oligarch on Thursday who has sought to fuel the Trump administration’s quest for dirt about Joe Biden.
In two separate court filings, the feds accused Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky of stealing billions of dollars from a bank he co-owned and laundering the proceeds into the U.S.
Saying that Kolomoisky is “known for ruthlessness and even violence that inspired loyalty,” the Justice Department said that the oligarch and his business partner laundered the stolen money into an industrial and real estate empire they built.
A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Ohio has been probing criminal money laundering allegations around Kolomoisky since at least last year, and the civil action comes two days after the FBI raided the offices of Kolomoisky’s company as part of that probe.
It also comes after Kolomoisky launched a campaign last year to curry favor with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani by helping spread negative and often false information about Biden.
Associates of Kolomoisky’s met with Giuliani in Kyiv in December 2019, offering the Trump attorney more supposed dirt on the Bidens and the Obama administration as a whole.
Earlier that year, Kolomoisky also texted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas a link to a press release issued by the same Ukrainians who have been hawking recordings of Vice President Joe Biden speaking with Ukraine’s president in 2016. Parnas forwarded the link to Giuliani.
Since then, Kolomoisky has continued to send out signals. After the tapes of Biden were first released, the oligarch formally requested that Ukrainian authorities open a criminal investigation based on them.
And like the other Ukrainians who have spread disinformation about the Bidens, Kolomoisky has a very clear axe to grind: Biden was one of the U.S. officials who pushed the Ukrainian government to nationalize the bank whose money he is accused of stealing via insider loan agreements and laundering into the U.S.
The scale of the December 2016 nationalization was huge at $5.5 billion, and threatened to destroy the Ukrainian economy if it went badly.
“The magnitude of the fraud and theft was so great that [Ukraine’s central bank] was forced to bail out the bank by providing $5.5 billion in order to stave off economic crisis for the whole country,” the DOJ filing reads.
Michael J. Sullivan, an attorney for Kolomoisky, told TPM in an email that his client “denies the claims alleged in the civil complaints filed today by the US Department of Justice.” The allegations in the court papers are not criminal.
Kolomoisky has publicly dismissed the prospect of investigations into him, but while dropping characteristic hints that the picture might in fact be more complicated.
He said in an interview with Ukrainian media in August 2019 that “If they had wanted to ‘get’ me, then they should have done everything the other way — sit quietly, say nothing, and convince me that nothing in the world was going against me, so that I would calmly travel to Europe and then arrest me there without a commotion, like Firtash.”
“Take such a great country, which all of a sudden cares about such a small, worthless person, like Kolomoisky — what kind of logic is that?” Kolomoisky added. “So I think that it’s all a conspiracy theory, and that after the change in power in the West, there are no real charges against me.”