The current Governor of the National Bank, Kyrylo Shevchenko, did not just manage Terra Bank together with the members of the Party of Regions. With his direct involvement, $40 million was laundered from the bank (at the current exchange rate it is 1.1 billion UAH). He used a scheme with the Austrian Meinl Bank in this case, according to ’s investigation that lasted about six months.
Meinl Bank ("Meinl Bank") is a bank in Austria that was repeatedly spotted in the schemes of Ukrainian bankers to launder funds of depositors from Ukrainian banks. In 2019, all that ended: the bank's management became the subject of an investigation, and the European Central Bank revoked the institution's license. But at the time of the events in question, the bank was working extensively. It was this bank that Shevchenko and the members of the Party of Regions used in their scheme.
"The scheme was the following: a Ukrainian bank opened a correspondent account in Meinl bank. Then, an offshore company owned by the same people as the Ukrainian bank applied Meinl Bank for a loan. Money of depositors of the Ukrainian bank was used as collateral for the loan (with the consent of the bank’s owners, the bankers-beneficiaries of the scheme). When Meinl Bank was accepting documents from the Ukrainian bank and the offshore institution, the depositors' money in the bank's correspondent account was appropriated by the scheme organizers, because at that moment the amount in the correspondent account became considered encumbered. At any time, if the offshore institution did not pay on the loan, Meinl Bank could write off the money from the correspondent account of the Ukrainian bank, even without additional confirmation," the investigation reports.
The National Bank considered that money belonging to the Ukrainian bank, because no one showed the agreement with the Austrians to the regulator. And the European Central Bank considered that money as Meinl Bank funds, because the Austrian bank showed a pledge agreement with the Ukrainian side.
After that, the institution withdrew the written-off money of depositors in favor of Ukrainian bankers. It is obvious that their offshore institutions were not going to repay the loans. As a result, the bankers got rich, Ukrainian banks went bankrupt, and Ukraine had to return the money the defrauded depositors.
What is the role of Kyrylo Shevchenko in the scheme of embezzling depositors’ money from Terra Bank?
Ruslan Tsyplakov is a person who bought the bank from Kyrylo Shevchenko and Vadym Kopylov in 2012. The same person is mentioned in Panama Papers.
The documents indicate that Ruslan Tsyplakov and his accomplice Lidiya Livadna are the owners of the offshore company MU UNITED LIMITED (BVI 1600737) in the British Virgin Islands. The offshore company is accompanied by the law firm Global group of Lawyers Ltd., its interests are represented by Mossack Fonseca (that is why the information about MU UNITED LIMITED became public). The offshore company MU UNITED LIMITED is listed as the owner of the Cypriot company Tosalan Trading Limited (HE284760).
Further, a chain of events thickens around Terra Bank so fast and simultaneously that it can not be a mere coincidence:
- On April 6, 2011, Tsyplakov and Lidiya register Tosalan Trading Ltd. in Cyprus.
- On April 6, 2011, Kyrylo Shevchenko resigned as Chairman of the Board of Terra Bank.
- On April 11, 2011, instead of Kyrylo Shevchenko, the Board of Terra Bank was headed by Kotsyuba. Shevchenko was appointed a member of the Supervisory Board of the bank.
- On June 22, 2011, Terra Bank opened correspondent accounts in Meinl Bank.
- On August 22, 2011, Volodymyr Kotsyuba, as the new Chairman of the Management Board, negotiated with Meinl Bank about granting a loan of $40 million to Tosalan Trading Ltd. on the pledge of Terra Bank’s funds.
Thus, it took the members of the Party of Regions and Kyrylo Shevchenko only four months to create and implement the scheme.
What happened next?
"In August—September 2011, Meinl Bank transferred, in four payments, $39,490,208.33 of credit funds aimed to Tosalan Trading Ltd. to the accounts of the Ukrainian company Praimeri Tekhnoresurs LLC (37201690) that were opened (note!) in Terra Bank. These data from the decision of the investigating judge in case №757/55573/19-к are confirmed by the monthly balance sheet of Terra Bank for 2010-2012 that is available to the editorial office," the investigation notes.
It is interesting that all the documents mentioned are signed by Volodymyr Kotsyuba. Let us remind you that Kyrylo Shevchenko "passed the post" to him. Most likely, Kotsyuba was to play the role of "figurehead"—a simple signatory of documents. It is even known how he was thanked for accepting responsibility on a large-scale scheme.
"After his dismissal from Terra Bank, through Kopylov's influence, Kotsyuba got an appointment of Deputy Minister of Finance (Yuriy Kolobov). At that job, Kotsyuba's mission was to document the infamous $3 billion loan that was used by Putin to buy Yanukovych's loyalty during the Maidan. Kotsyuba became a signatory to that agreement", the investigation states.
Where did the money go?
The afterlife of the aforementioned $40 million turned out to be interesting. On paper, it was Terra Bank's funds in a correspondent account in Meinl Bank. But de-facto, that money went to the account of Praimeri Tekhnoresurs LLC, a client of Terra Bank. But not as money of depositors, but as… funds of the owners of the enterprise.
"The ultimate beneficial owner of Praimeri Tekhnoresurs LLC is Sotnyk O.V., who previously worked under the leadership of Lidiya Livadna. SKAT-PKB LLC (code 34557959) is registered at the address as Praimeri Tekhnoresurs LLC in Mariupol. Among the founders of SKAT-PKB LLC, there is Tsyplakov Serhiy Petrovych who has the same surname and patronymic as Tsyplakov Ruslan Petrovych, so they might be siblings," the article notes.
These facts mean that a year before selling Terra Bank, the management laundered $40 million from it through Tsyplakov's offshore companies. The money was laundered under the direct control of Shevchenko and Kopylov. The funds were credited to the account of Tsyplakov's fictitious firm, opened in the same bank, and then they were laundered from there.
And this leads to an even more shocking conclusion. In 2012, the transaction for the sale of Terra Bank to Tsyplakov was carried out for the same money that had been taken out of the bank a year earlier. But this time, they got the money on a legal basis.
"It was the last stage of the scheme that is a one-on-one duplicate of Tsyplakov's scheme that helped to launder $38 million from Pivdencombank. But in the case of Terra Bank, Tsyplakov associated with Kyrylo Shevchenko's group," the investigation summarizes.
Kirill Shevchenko, who now holds the post of the NBU Governor, claims that he has nothing to do with the schemes associated with Terra Bank and Meinl Bank. They say that the money was shifted from the accounts of Terra Bank in an Austrian institution after the bank itself was liquidated from the market in 2014. But the investigation shows that the shifting funds is only the top of the scheme, and its basis were laid back in 2011.
"Could Shevchenko be unaware of signing such an agreement? It is not possible. Even if Kotsyuba, a friend of Shevchenko and Kopylov, had decided to hide it, he would not have succeeded. Large-scale agreements (it was about 320 million hryvnias at the exchange rate at that time) should be agreed upon with the Supervisory Board, and most likely with shareholders as well. At the time of signing the agreement, Shevchenko was both a member of the Supervisory Board and the Chairman of the Management Board of USG PJSC, the main shareholder that owned 99.21% of Terra Bank shares. Even if we assume that the Supervisory Board could have overlooked the placement of $40 million in foreign correspondent accounts without economic necessity, the appearance of that amount of money on the bank’s balance could not be ignored. After all, that money appeared in the account of Praimeri Tekhnoresurs, opened in the same Terra Bank," the investigation notes.
Hence, it is concluded that the document could not have been signed without the consent of Kotsyuba's employers. At that time there were two of them—Kopylov and Shevchenko. And judging by the timing of Kotsyuba's appointment, he was made the Director of the bank for one purpose—to affix his signatures on the documents.
Kyrylo Shevchenko himself denies any involvement in this scheme.
"I couldn’t help noticing that in the wording of the questions you have provided, there is a pre-formed position regarding my allegedly negative role in the Terra Bank case. I have already given answers to questions on this topic in the media earlier. I note once again that I have nothing to do with any illegal schemes," he stated to ’s investigators, who asked him to comment on information.