Former PrivatBank owner accused in fraud case left Ukraine illegally, investigators say

FILE PHOTO: A woman uses a PrivatBank ATM machine in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation was looking into Gennadiy Bogolyubov, former co-owner of PrivatBank, who is suspected of using another person's passport to leave Ukraine in June amid separate fraud allegations, it said on Tuesday.

PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest lender, accused former co-owners Bogolyubov and Ihor Kolomoisky in a lawsuit filed in London of orchestrating sham loans and supply agreements between 2013 and 2014 to defraud the bank on an "epic scale". Ukraine nationalised the bank in 2016.

Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky both deny wrongdoing. They say there was no misappropriation from PrivatBank, and that the bank has no evidence of their involvement in alleged fraud.

Bogolyubov, accused by the bank of helping orchestrate $2 billion worth of fraud, left Ukraine on June 24 by train to Poland, illegally using the passport of another Ukrainian, the investigators said.

A border crossing official who helped him had been detained, they added.

The Privatbank case has been closely watched by politicians and investors as a test of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's willingness to pursue reforms and tackle the corruption which has blighted Ukraine for years, amid its ongoing war with Russia.

Kolomoisky has been in custody in Ukraine on suspicion of fraud since 2023.

Bogolyubov travelled onward to Austria from Poland, the Ukrainska Pravda online news outlet reported, citing sources. His press service told Pravda he left the country legally.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Anastasiia Malenko in Kyiv; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bernadette Baum)