This article is the result of investigating the activities of some extremely successful small entrepreneurs who have earned tremendous money by working with a state-owned bank and several state-owned entrepreneurs. What is their secret to success? You need to take a simple Soviet…
Whenever you imagine stealing 200 million hryvnias from a bank, you might think of armed people trying to overcome security personnel, people with laptops to break the alarm and lasers to uncork the bank's central safe.
But we live in Ukraine and everything works here differently. All you need is corruption. And not always even elaborated corruption. Sometimes, a stupid one is enough.
Our investigation is about such a case: a very stupid case, yet exciting.
In this investigation, we will tell you about the robbery of Ukrgasbank, when 200 million hryvnias were stolen. However, for some reason, our law enforcement agencies cannot investigate the robbery. And from our investigation, you will learn why it is like that.
Ukrgasbank, almost a state-owned bank
To rob a bank, you need a bank first of all. Of course, it is better to choose a state-owned bank or almost a state-owned one. Because, as you know, the state does not really care about its money.
In 2009, in order to save Ukrgasbank from bankruptcy, it was nationalized, i.e., transferred to the state. Well, almost completely. Because for some reason, the nationalization of Ukrgasbank was not complete, and Ukrgasbank became state-owned not for 100%, but only 94.94%. Therefore, when necessary, the authorities consider Ukrgasbank a state bank. And when it is necessary not to disclose, for example, the salaries of Ukrgasbank's management, the authorities consider Ukrgasbank to be a commercial bank with trade secrets. Very convenient.
This situation with the bank's owners has allowed Ukrgasbank to implement a very simple and obvious scheme to steal the bank's money.
And what makes this scheme? It is just a single quite logical decree of the Cabinet of Ministers and the audacity of the robbers.
In 2014, the Cabinet of Ministers received a country with empty treasury accounts and adopted an order №10874/1/1-14, which required state institutions and most large state-owned companies to close accounts in commercial banks and open them in state-owned banks instead. So, state-owned enterprises were forced to work with state-owned banks.
But we remember that in fact, Ukrgasbank is not (completely) a state bank. Therefore, specifically for Ukrgasbank, there was created a new class of banks, so-called "public sector banks."
These are the banks with more than 75 percent of the shares belonging to the state. After creating a name for a new bank class, Ukraine got three quasi-state banks: Oschadbank, Ukreximbank, and Ukrgasbank. Privatbank was not yet nationalized at that time.
There is no problem or any scheme here: state companies, state educational institutions, state institutions place their money in state banks. This is quite logical, even though not quite competitive. And this was not a problem, because there was also a so-called "bankopad", a series of bankruptcy of private banks.The scheme is the following.
Who are the most successful individual entrepreneurs in Ukraine? – Ordinary retirees and students
Ukrgasbank paid big money to third-party mediators for allegedly bringing new large state-owned companies as customers to Ukrgasbank. Which were actually guaranteed to move to Ukrgasbank because of the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers anyway.
There was no need to persuade any state-owned company to do so. And what was the reason for any of these banks to ask for third-party help? Could it be that the bank's employees or even top managers of Ukrgasbank did not know how to call Ukrzaliznytsia or Energoatom?
It is clear that state-owned companies came to Ukrgasbank on their own, and Ukrgasbank simply robbed the money. This way, almost 200 million hryvnias were withdrawn from the bank to the accounts of thirty people.
Here are the people who received a total award from Ukragasbank in the amount of almost 200 million hryvnias. After paying the award, the money they received became ideally laundered, and there were no questions about them, even from the tax authorities, because the state bank legally paid each to individual entrepreneurs accounts (which are called FOP in Ukraine) of these people.
For example, someone Yatsenko Yevhenii Serhiiovych has received four and a half million hryvnias from Ukrgasbank for his individual entrepreneur account because there was not a single person in Ukrgasbank who could google the phone number of a state-owned company. Or maybe because there was not a single person in the state bank who knew about any state-owned companies in general.
By the way, Mr. Yatsenko did not have any accounts in any other banks, except Ukrgasbank. His individual entrepreneur account was also serviced by Ukrgasbank. Also, there are no other significant money flows on the accounts of individual entrepreneur Yatsenko, except for remunerations for attracting customers to Ukrgasbank. At that time, Yatsenko did not have any legal entities that could provide services to attract customers or any services that were mentioned in his FOP according to the Classifier of economic activities (»Provision of other information services»).
The meticulous reader may have a question. Some people get a money reward from the state bank for attracting customers. So, maybe they are true high-class specialists? Maybe their services cost so much? Of course not.
Look at these high-class specialists. This group of people either opened an account just before the scheme was launched or changed them in order to meet the requirements of Ukrgasbank. They had accounts only in Ukrgasbank, where they received money (sometimes they also had personal accounts in Privatbank since many people have a Privatbank card). And the only turnover of their individual entrepreneur accounts is the money received from Ukrgasbank. Thus, they are not specialists, they "worked" only for Ukrgasbank, and after that, they did not do anything like that.
Let us look at these people closely. Here is Mariia Volodymyrivna Kostyuk, who is retired and lives in Kyiv. She has received more than fourteen million hryvnias from Ukrgasbank for attracting new customers. Dear retirees, you do not need to invest in risky ponzi schemes to prosper, you simply need to look at Ukrgasbank and earn 14 million hryvnias by attracting customers to the bank.
And here is Vladymyrova Olha Olehivna. She was born in 1993, and in 2016 she was 23 years old. She got 9,466,826 hryvnias transferred from Ukrgasbank to her account as remuneration. Well, she is obviously an outstanding specialist.
Fraudsters call such people "drops." These are men of straw that serve as money transferer. Usually, they do not even have documents for their accounts and they do not get any money on hand. Because who will ever give such a pile of cash to a pensioner or a student? In this case, most of these individual entrepreneurs have never received money on hand either. The scheme organizers from Ukrgasbank have simply received all the money by themselves. And they used the whole system of accounts only for reporting and creating the legit documentation because all these individual entrepreneurs were serviced by Ukrgasbank.
How else to prove that these people are not high-class professionals and successful entrepreneurs? We can look at the history of their lawsuits.
For example, let’s take the abovementioned Yatsenko Yevhenii. Among the many court cases with him, there is an interesting one. This is a criminal case as Mr. Yatsenko was accused of stealing a car. Mr. Yatsenko, a petty car thief, later becomes a decent man, a member of society, who attracts wealthy customers to Ukrgasbank.
Some people in this "list of drops" have problems with the law as they were not able to repay small loans (https://reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/64077188). It is difficult to imagine a situation when a person receives millions and at the same time cannot return 7,000 hryvnias, as it happened with Vladymyrova Olha Olehivna.
These are poor people. Some are professional scammers, but some are just unemployed or retired. Some fraudsters came to them and said that they could make easy money. And they agreed.
Apart from that, we have visited some of these people or their relatives who live at the place of the FOP’s registration.
Here you can see a Khrushchev-era apartment. Antyukhova Victoria Borysivna lives here. Previously, she has allegedly received 9,340,732 hryvnias from Ukrgasbank. She refused to open the door to us and threatened to call the police. So, unfortunately, the only thing you can see is the door.
And here are the relatives of Yuliia Rud, who has received 12 million hryvnias from Ukrgasbank. They say that they have never seen such big money and their daughter has never earned that much.
Then, Juliia's father comes outside, and the conversation does not go well further. Don’t pay attention to the "security" label, this man does not represent the security of the house, this man simply is dressed like that.
Here is Kateryna Smovzh's father, who says that his daughter does not live at the address of her individual enterpreneurs account registration and that she works in a call center. She has allegedly received 3,611,397 hryvnias from Ukrgasbank (average salary for 20 years of working in a call center).
And here is a fence around the home of Kostyuk Mariia Vladymyrivna, who has received 14,225,961 hryvnias from Ukrgasbank for attracting large customers.
After hearing the question, Mariia Vladymyrivna tried her best to avoid the camera.
Volodymyr Rudyk could not articulate a single word when trying to answer a question about what he had received 3,932,943 hryvnias from Ukrgasbank for. Then, he closed the door and said he would not answer at all.
Find this moment in the video, it's really funny.
Even the curmudgeonly readers might agree that these people do not look like banking specialists. They do not want to and cannot explain what they had received their money for. These people, obviously, have never had such big money. It is clear that they are "drops."
But is there any evidence that these people have indeed received money from Ukrgasbank and not, for example, directly from a state-owned company?
There is evidence of this as well. Among the people who received this money, there are also representatives of Ukrgasbank. This way, the wife of the deputy chairman at Ukrgasbank has received a reward of almost five and a half million hryvnias. That is, Ukrgasbank has paid millions of hryvnias to close relatives of its employees.
You may ask why. Most likely, they ran out of "drops" because each individual entrepreneur account in Ukraine has a limit for transferring money. That is why they had to send the stolen money to themselves, as there were lots of money.
A reader may say: Okay, I agree. Indeed, this scheme was implemented by Ukrgasbank, indeed the money was laundered via "drops" and bank workers’ relatives and acquaintances. The scheme is simple and obvious, it is quite easy to find the copartners. Here they are on the screen, and here are even the relatives of the Ukrgasbank managers. It looks like people were robbing the bank openly, without masks, losing their documents and passports during the robbery.
Why don’t our law enforcement agencies imprison all these people? The organizers of this scheme still hold the same positions in Ukrgasbank, and the people who implemented the scheme are living their lives in their old houses and walking the same streets as before.
Bribe for the Deputy Prosecutor General
There is an answer to this. In addition to earning money, Ukrgasbank used this scheme to bribe law enforcement officers. Kateryna Ihorivna Herasymiuk will give us the answer. She has received more than nine and a half million hryvnias in remuneration from Ukrgasbank. It is difficult to call Kateryna Ihorivna "a drop," as she is wealthy.
Her husband is Herasymiuk Mykola Volodymyrovych, former First Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine. By the way, he has also received money from Ukrgasbank, also nine and a half million hryvnias.
In total, the Herasymiuk couple has received 19 million hryvnias from Ukrgasbank. Almost a million dollars at the rate of that time.
And this is a bribe in the form of a huge mountain of dirty cash.
What is this bribe for? The answer is very simple. But in order to answer it, we must remind you who was the head of Ukrgasbank during the implementation of this dirty and obvious scheme.
Kyrylo Yevhenovych Shevchenko
Back at that time, Kyrylo Yevhenovych Shevchenko was the chairman of Ukrgasbank. Now, he is the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, he negotiates with the IMF and signs policy papers that regulate actions of all the banks in Ukraine.
In 2015-2016, an investigation was launched into the Terra Bank scam scheme organized by Kyrylo Shevchenko. Kyrylo Shevchenko tried to avoid the attention associated with the investigation on Terra Bank, and someone had to help him in this. The help came from his old friend Mykola Herasymiuk, who in 2014 left the post of Kyiv City Prosecutor and became the First Deputy Prosecutor General and, thus, joined the Board of the Prosecutor General's Office.
It was he who was supervising the units in the prosecutor's office that were involved in investigations of Kyrylo Shevchenko's Terra Bank. And even though he was longer working in the Prosecutor General's Office when he got the money, he still knew all the necessary people. He got the money from Kyrylo Shevchenko to bribe "the necessary people", right to his official individual entrepreneur account (yes, he also had one). Well, in general, he is considered to be a very respectable person in crucial circles: for example, he was an assistant of Ukraine’s president close collegue, Oleksandr Hranovskyi, when the latter was a deputy of the 8th convocation, which says a lot.
It is very easy to prove the link between Herasymiuk and Shevchenko. In 2010, Herasymiuk was the head of the legal department at Ukrgasbank, and later the head of the legal service of Ukrgasbank. At the same time, Kyrylo Shevchenko was the first deputy chairman of Ukrgasbank. They were colleagues. Apart from that, while Shevchenko was an adviser to Yulia Tymoshenko, Herasymiuk was an assistant to an influential deputy from her political party.
As we can see, wherever Kyrylo Shevchenko comes, there are bribery schemes for corrupt law enforcement officers as well as mountains of dirty cache that support a comfortable standard of living for Kyrylo Shevchenko.
As for Kyrylo Shevchenko, he insists that the scheme of paying "rewards" to third-party persons for attracting customers is a common and global practice, and there is nothing illegal about it. However, one can hardly believe it. It is not okay to allow unknown "drops," corrupt security officers, and relatives of the bank's top management to receive remuneration for attracting customers to the bank. It is even less okay to let pay remuneration for attracting a state-owned company when all the state-owned companies are forced to be served only by state-owned banks. Anywhere in a normal country, everyone would immediately get to prison for such schemes. Because this is an obvious corruption scheme.
This is just one scheme, and you wouldn't call it a small one. The 200 million hryvnias that were taken out of the state bank, that is, stolen from all of us, is a new fully built regional hospital. Or it's five or six kindergartens built from scratch. Or three big schools, also built from scratch and fully equipped.
Two hundred million hryvnias would cover the expenses of a tank brigade for six months. But instead, the money was divided between several corrupt Ukrgasbank executives and corrupt law enforcement officers who covered them up.
Currently, Kyrylo Shevchenko is the Governor of the National Bank, which is the regulator of every bank in Ukraine, including Ukrgasbank. In addition, Kyrylo Shevchenko actually still controls Ukrgasbank since all his friends who joined him when robbing the bank, are still working there. Apparently, he has a conflict of interest regarding the investigation of the situation around Ukrgasbank and Terra Bank, but Kyrylo Shevchenko pretends that there is no conflict of interest.
As the chairman of the National Bank, Kyrylo Shevchenko can now implement such schemes not only in one state bank but in any bank in Ukraine, either a state or a commercial one. And he's actually doing it right now because he has to pay corrupt law enforcement, judges, and corrupt media. And if IMF or any other international financial institutions seek any answers from Ukraine about fraud schemes, these questions are answered by Kyrylo Shevchenko. And the answer is always "see no evil, everything is legit here"
No matter how stupid were the schemes that were used to rob Ukrgasbank, it happened almost five years ago and yet no one has been punished because Kyrylo Shevchenko keeps on implementing his schemes and corrupting his entourage and law enforcement officers. Because, in fact, there are a lot more schemes, and some others are not that stupid.
But it seems, even the stupid schemes are not the reason to be caught.
Whenever you ponder why our country is so poor, we can provide you with an answer. The situation is like this because you can steal hundreds of millions of hryvnias, steal absolutely brazenly and openly, and no one will do anything about it. This is the problem of our country.
We will make sure that Kyrylo Shevchenko gets to prison. We will fight corrupt law agencies, and to do so, we need to make this investigation public. Each of you can help and send this investigation to your friends and acquaintances.
And we will demand from NABU that corruption receives the deserved punishment, and the example of "the most successful FOPs" will not spread across the country.