Exclusive: Oligarch Kolomoisky allegedly investigated in criminal probe in Israel
Israeli police have opened a fraud investigation that allegedly involves oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and several of his associates.
The case revolves around a 2019 deal between Kolomoisky’s partners and a company belonging to Belarusian oligarch Nikolay Vorobei.
Kolomoisky’s associates allegedly failed to pay $20 million for the coal they bought in 2019 from Vorobei’s company and resold to Centrenergo, a major Ukrainian state energy company.
According to a Kyiv Post source close to the seller, who wasn’t authorized to publically reveal the details, the Ukrainian oligarch’s associates shut down their company instead of paying for the coal.
In April, the seller’s representatives went to the police in Israel, where Kolomoisky and his associates hold citizenships, and filed a report about the alleged fraud.
The investigation is ongoing. No one was indicted in the case so far.
Kolomoisky told the Kyiv Post he’s not aware of a criminal investigation that involves him in Israel, but he will ask his lawyers to check it out.
He said he is acquainted with the Belarusian oligarch Vorobei but doesn’t do business with him.
The investigation may add to Kolomoisky’s laundry list of troubles. He is already being investigated in the U.S. for alleged money laundering, and in Ukraine for alleged embezzlement.
In October 2019, Sanderlyn, a company registered in Cyprus, signed an agreement with NT Marine, registered in Estonia, to supply 320,000 tons of coal to Ukraine for $25 million, or $78 per ton. Within three weeks, NT Marine shipped the coal to Ukraine, which was then re-sold to Centrenergo.
According to a Kyiv Post source close to NT Marine, Sanderlyn paid only $5 million of the $25 million it owed. The rest allegedly couldn’t be paid because Centrenergo wasn’t paying for the coal.
According to the same source, Sanderlyn is associated by Kolomoisky and his associates, namely his business partner Mikhail Kiperman.
Kolomoisky rarely reveals what companies he owns. However, he once confirmed that he is a shareholder of Sintez Oil, a company very similar to Sanderlyn. Sintez Oil is the Ukrainian subsidiary of a Cyprus company managed by the Cypriot Eftychia Xenofontos. The same person is listed as the director of Sanderlyn. (Several of the Cyprus companies linked to Kolomoisky’s companies through Xenofontos were dissolved on July 4.)
Sanderlyn and Kolomoisky’s Sintez Oil were selling coal to Centrenergo at the same time, towards the end of 2019. Both purchased the coal at the same price, $78 per ton.
While it’s unknown how much Sanderlyn charged Centrenergo for the coal, Sintez Oil was adding $10 to the price per ton. If Sanderlyn set the same margin, it made $3.2 million on the 320,000 tons it supplied in November 2019.
As for the supplier, NT Marine, it has a no less powerful backer. Russian media outlet RBK cited four sources in the coal market who said that NT Marine is controlled by Vorobei, who is close to Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Officially the company is owned by Estonian national Alexey Chulets, whom the Baltic media refer to as a partner of Vorobei. The Kyiv Post source close to NT Marine also said that the company belongs to Vorobei.
Kolomoisky told the Kyiv Post that he and his associates “didn’t steal any coal from Vorobei.”
He added that he doesn’t do business with Vorobei, because the Belarusian oligarch is under EU sanctions. However, the sanctions were imposed on Vorobei in December 2020, a year after the alleged deal.
After trying for a year to get Sanderlyn to pay the remaining $20 million, NT Marine’s representative filed a report with the Israeli police, claiming that fraud took place.
The case was opened on April 6, 2021, according to a Kyiv Post source close to the claimant.
According to the source, the police were looking into five people who allegedly participated in the deal in different capacities – Kolomoisky, his business partner Mikhail Kiperman, Maria Kiperman, Ukrainian ex-lawmaker Yevhen Geller and former CEO of PrivatBank, Oleksandr Dubilet.
According to the source, Geller has been assisting with Russian coal shipments to Centrenergo, while Dubilet has assisted with financial operations.
Geller and Kiperman couldn’t be reached for comment. Dubilet denied, through Kolomoisky, that he “stole any coal.”
Kolomoisky and Centrenergo
After President Volodymyr Zelensky took office in May 2019, Ukraine’s largest energy company, Centrenergo, fell under Kolomoisky’s influence.
The state-owned company bought overpriced coal and gas from companies linked to Kolomoisky and supplied cheap electricity to Kolomoisky’s plants.
According to a Kyiv Post source close to Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the bureau has been informed about the Israeli investigation.
The bureau is already investigating Kolomoisky’s associates in the case of PrivatBank, where $5.5 billion were embezzled when Kolomoisky co-owned it. Another investigation concerns alleged embezzlement of $8 million from Centrenergo.
Dubilet, who is mentioned in the Israeli investigation, is a suspect in the PrivatBank case and has been wanted in Ukraine since March. He reportedly resides in Israel.
Kolomoisky’s influence on Centrenergo ended in February, when the State Property Fund changed the leadership of the company. In April, authorities searched the oligarch’s office in Kyiv as part of the Centrenergo embezzlement case.