Monday

18th Jun 2018

Two more Ukrainians try to get off EU blacklist

  • The so-called Coest group in the EU Council is handing the complaints (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

Two more Ukrainians under an EU asset freeze - the former president’s son, Oleksandr Yanukovych, and businessman Serhiy Kurchenko - have filed objections with the EU Council in Brussels.

Diplomatic contacts said the council’s “Coest” working group is considering their appeals, but predicted they will have to fight the decision at the EU court in Luxembourg.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“This kind of complaint is normally the first step before launching legal proceedings,” one source said.

The EU asset freeze was imposed on 5 March, two weeks after the regime fell. It cites 18 people, including the former president himself and his other son, Viktor, for looting state money or for human rights violations.

It describes Kurchenko and Oleksandr Yanukovych as “businessmen” who are “subject to investigation in Ukraine for involvement in crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine.”

The two men join former Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov and his son, Oleksii, who filed similar EU complaints last month.

The Azarovs are using a German law firm, Alber & Geiger. It is unclear who is representing Kurchenko and Oleksandr Yanukovych, but Alber & Geiger told EUobserver it is not involved.

Ukraine’s caretaker government estimates that $70 billion was stolen from the treasury during the former regime’s four years in power, gutting vital institutions, including the Ukrainian military.

It is being assisted by EU officials and by the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation to repatriate funds.

Kurchenko, a 28-year-old banking, gas, and media tycoon with close links to the former ruling clan, said in a statement published by his company, Vetek Group, on 6 March: “I am an honest Ukrainian businessman … I am ready to provide all the necessary documents and to give any assistance to the EU inspection bodies in order to prove my innocence.”

But Ukrainian prosecutors have issued a warrant for his arrest on charges he stole $100 million from a state gas firm. They also say he hired “titushki” - plain clothes thugs - to beat up protesters.

Meanwhile, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a Washington-based group of journalists, has obtained documents showing that Kurchenko-linked offshore firms, including three in Cyprus, funelled huge sums via Latvia’s ABLV bank.

Oleksandr Yanukovych, 40, is a dentist by training.

He also became one of Ukraine’s richest men after gaining control of a bank on his father’s watch and is said by Forbes magazine to be worth $510 million.

The current whereabouts of the Azarovs, Kurchenko, and of Oleksandr Yanukovych are unknown.

Mykola Azarov was last reported to have fled to Austria, where his family has business and real estate interests.

The EU blacklist does not include a visa ban alongside the asset freeze, as in the case of EU sanctions on Russian officials.

An EU diplomat added that, under EU sanctions rules, member states can authorise the release of frozen funds to pay for “reasonable” legal fees to fight the measures in the EU system.

“From experience I know that many persons under asset freeze use lawyers in Europe,” the contact said.

Correction: The original story said the sanctions on 18 Ukrainians also include an EU visa ban. They do not. Apologies

EU leaders agree new Russia sanctions

EU leaders have reacted to Russia's annexation of Crimea by blacklisting 12 new names and agreeing to send EU peace monitors if need be.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  2. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  3. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  4. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  5. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  6. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  7. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal
  8. EU institutions agree EU-wide rights for asylum seekers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  7. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  8. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  11. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model

Latest News

  1. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  2. EU asylum applications drop, Germany registers most
  3. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  4. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  5. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  6. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK
  7. How Italy's government might hijack EU migration policy
  8. The EU cannot shape the future of AI with regulation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us