Canadian Firm Dismantles $12 Million Solar Plant In Ukraine Amid Dispute With Tycoon

December 28, 2021 22:09 GMTUPDATED December 28, 2021 22:40 GMT – By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service

A Canadian company has dismantled one of its multimillion-dollar solar investments in Ukraine following a dispute with a powerful tycoon believed to be close to the presidential administration in a case that has underscored the former Soviet state’s troubled investment climate.

TIU Canada completed the removal of its 10.5 megawatt power plant in Nikopol, a city about 500 kilometers southeast of the capital, Kyiv, in mid-November after failing to be reconnected to the electricity grid, company spokesman Brian Mefford told RFE/RL on December 28. The plant contained more than 32,000 solar panels

TIU Canada commissioned the $12 million plant on the territory of the Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant in January 2018 amid much fanfare, with representatives from the local government, foreign embassies, and business community in attendance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

TIU’s solar plant symbolized foreign investors’ interest in the country’s burgeoning alternative-energy industry. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy even highlighted TIU’s investment in a pitch to Canadian investors during a visit to Toronto in July 2019.

However, on March 1, 2020, the Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant disconnected TIU Canada from the electricity grid on the pretext of needing to make repairs to the power substation on its territory, the solar company said.

Almost two years later, the solar power plant remained idle, costing TIU Canada millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Corrupt Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy

The decision to dismantle the plant follows an unsuccessful, two-year legal, media, and lobbying campaign against Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant and its main owner, Ihor Kolomoyskiy.

TIU hired Washington-based Blue Star Strategies late last year to lobby on its behalf before the U.S. government on “sustainable energy investments in Ukraine.”

TIU has accused Kolomoyskiy of cutting the company off from the grid in an attempt to purchase it at a knockdown price. Such ruthless business practices were common in the 1990s and early 2000s in many former Soviet states but have since subsided.

Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant, meanwhile, accused TIU Canada of blackmail and preventing it from carrying out urgent repairs.

However, Yurkovich told Voice of America he didn’t see anyone doing repairs. Instead, Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant had sent offers to buy the solar power plant at rock-bottom prices, he said.

Ukrainian business ombudsman Marchin Svenchintskiy told Voice of America that even if Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant had to urgently carry out repairs, the work “couldn’t last that long.”

Ukrainian law requires power stations to give their permission to be disconnected, making Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant’s actions illegal, TIU has argued.

However, the company has failed to win over a court system that is widely considered highly corrupt and its Nikopol project has become the latest poster child for the dangers of doing business in Ukraine.

Two court cases have failed to deliver any results for TIU. Several judges recused themselves from hearing the case, something that Yurkovich has attributed to their fear of crossing Kolomoyskiy.

“There are not many judges willing to take on the oligarchs, particularly Kolomoyskiy, and adhere to the rule of law,” Mefford said.

CEO Yurkovich “saw no solution to that situation” and decided to dismantle the project, Mefford said. TIU is storing the recoverable assets — at least temporarily — in Ukraine, he said.

TIU Canada has two other solar plants in Ukraine. Mefford declined to comment on the company’s future plans.

Ukraine has struggled to attract significant foreign investment since achieving independence from the Soviet Union 30 years ago due to its weak rule of law.

Ukraine’s economy is dominated by a handful of tycoons like Kolomoyskiy, who exercise outsized influence over the government and courts.

Nowhere is that dominance more evident than in the country’s energy and metals industries.

Banned By United States

Kolomoyskiy, a billionaire who made his wealth in the 1990s scooping up former state assets, is known for his aggressive business practices, which have included sending armed men to take over companies.

The State Department in March officially banned him and his immediate family from entry into the United States due to accusations of corruption that he denies.

Political analysts and members of civil society have expressed concern over Kolomoyskiy’s ties to Zelenskiy.

The tycoon’s media assets backed Zelenskiy’s presidential campaign and are credited with helping the former comic and political novice win the April 2019 election in a landslide.

A month later, Kolomoyskiy returned to Ukraine following several years of self-imposed exile over fear of prosecution for bank fraud.

Zelenskiy promised during his campaign to take on the tycoons and improve Ukraine’s investment climate.

While he has passed a law to reduce their influence and gone after several of the wealthiest individuals, he has largely left Kolomoyskiy alone, analysts say.

Yurkovich told Voice of America he removed the solar panels, a costly process, so that Kolomoyskiy would not get them for free.

Neither Nikopol FerroAlloy Plant nor the president’s office responded to Voice of America’s request for comment on the situation.

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-canadian-solar-kolomoyskiy/31630301.html

6 comments

  1. Russian oligarchs are all criminals without exception. They are allowed to stay in business provided they “pay tribute” to the tiny capo di tutti i capi. Opposition is punished by poisonings, shootings, fake suicides or defenestration. Their investments in Europe and North America are entirely for the convenience of the Kremlin murder gang. As Brian Whitmore puts it, they are “custodians of Russian money.”
    In Ukraine it seems that most oligarchs are also Russian criminals or simply gangsters that play both sides like this unsavoury fuck Kolomoisky. Although Akhmatov is probably worse, as he is undoubtedly a putler asset.
    Progress can’t be made in Ukraine until all the oligarchs have had their assets nationalised. I don’t include Poro in that because he is a successful legitimate businessman whose loyalty to Ukraine is proven. No doubt the current litigation against him will prove to be vexatious.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I cannot understand why at least the West doesn’t put a stop to such leeches. The only rationale that springs to mind is that many there have oligarch nose rings attached, formed by their filthy money.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. This matter will help increase confidence in Ukraine having a sound investment environment. Whoever sees the deep sarcasm in my first sentence, good for you.
    Fat Bastard and his ilk will continue harming the country in multiple ways until someone or something will effectively stop them. Certainly, the little TV clown isn’t up to the job. On the contrary.

    I am currently in Kyiv. Yesterday, my son and I went to visit the WWII museum, located beneath the huge Rodina Mat statue. A section of the museum is dedicated to the war in Donbas. It is heartbreaking to see these men and women, old and young fighting for their country, suffering cold and heat, dirt and drudgery, injury and death … while these parasites are living the good life through sucking the lifeblood out of the same country they are defending. This is a downright perverted situation.

    Liked by 4 people

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