Financial corruption and crony capitalism in Ukraine


According to a report by Robert Parry in Consortium News, in December 2014, before being named Ukraine’s Finance Minister, American-born Natalie Jaresko accepted Ukrainian citizenship as a prerequisite for getting the job, but in almost one year since she has not renounced her American citizenship, according to the US records and a Ukrainian official.

Perry said, “the Ukrainian Constitution allows for only “single citizenship”, meaning that a foreigner who is granted Ukrainian citizenship must terminate his or her previous citizenship and must submit a document attesting to that renunciation “within two years from the date of granting of Ukrainian citizenship”, said Mariia Budiakova, press secretary of the Ukraine Embassy in Washington”.

While according to the published quarterly report containing names of Americans who have renounced their US citizenship and those names printed in the Federal Register since December 2014 do not include the name of Mariia Budiakova.

Ukrainian finance minister Natalie Jaresko appeared to be exploited the two-year period for submitting proof of renouncing her prior citizenship so she could hold her powerful Ukrainian position for two years with the option of then dropping her Ukrainian citizenship and keeping her US citizenship. But that manipulation of the process created the appearance of a carpetbagger with dual loyalties and reinforces the image, highlighted by Russian media, of a Ukrainian government being run behind the scenes by the United States and other outsiders.

There’s also the possibility that Jaresko was exploiting this opportunity to learn all she could about the inner workings of the Ukrainian government to position herself to quit her post after two years, drop her temporary Ukrainian citizenship, and become a well-paid consultant with valuable contacts inside Ukraine’s Finance Ministry.

According to Consortium News, prior to her appointment as the Ukrainian Finance Minister, Natalie Jaresko, a former American diplomat, headed the US-taxpayer-financed Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), created in the 1990s to help jump-start an investment economy for Ukraine and Moldova. WNISEF was overseen by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). While WNISEF officials were limited to US$150,000 in compensation a year, Jaresko maneuvered to exceed that total, ultimately collecting more than US$2 million a year by shifting management of WNISEF to her own private company, Horizon Capital, and arranging to get lucrative bonuses when selling off investments, even as the overall WNISEF fund was losing money, according to official records.

For instance, Jaresko collected US$1.77 million in bonuses in 2013, according to WNISEF’s latest available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. In her financial disclosure forms with the Ukrainian government, she reported earning $2.66 million in 2013 and US$2.05 million in 2014, thus amassing a sizeable personal fortune while investing U.S. taxpayers’ money supposedly to benefit the Ukrainian people.

Meanwhile, WNISEF continued to hemorrhage money, shrinking from its original US$150 million to US$89.8 million in the 2013 tax year, according to the IRS filing. WNISEF reported that the bonuses to Natalie Jaresko and other corporate officers were based on profitable exits from some investments even if the overall fund was losing money. Still, Jaresko and other foreigners who were brought in to fill key positions in the Ukrainian regime were described as “technocrats” whose only interest was to bring good government to Ukraine, a country long saddled with institutionalized corruption. Natalie Jaresko was hailed as a Ukrainian “reformer” who in the words of New York Times’ columnist Thomas L. Friedman “shares our values”.

According to 2015 accounts from Ukraine, official corruption remained a deep-seated problem more than a year-and-a-half after the February 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was lambasted by the Western media for having a sauna in his official residence, the sauna becoming emblematic of his alleged abuse of power. Prior to his ouster, Yanukovych and his government were targeted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by USAID, the same organization that hired Natalie Jaresko to run WNISEF, and Open Society, a foundation headed by George Soros, a hedge-fund billionaire who has profited off the financial destabilization of fragile governments.

OCCRP’s selective outrage over “corruption” raises questions as to whether it is a genuinely journalistic operation or a propaganda front for the US government and Western business interests targeting regimes that don’t play ball. After all, Jaresko’s multi-million-dollar profiting off her relationship with the US-taxpayer-funded WNISEF would seem to be a starker example of corruption than Yanukovych’s sauna.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Ukraine has Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, an inviting target especially since other European nations, such as Great Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria, have resisted fracking technology because of environmental concerns. An economically supine Ukraine is presumably less able to say no.

This process in Ukraine also appears to have benefited from some greasing of the skids by hiring well-connected Americans besides Natalie  Jaresko. Just three months after Yanukovych’s ouster, Ukraine’s largest private gas firm, Burisma Holdings, appointed then US Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors.

It may be mentioned here that, Burisma a shadowy Cyprus-based company also lined up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry’s former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As TIME magazine reported, “Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.”

According to investigative journalism inside Ukraine, the ownership of Burisma was traced to Privat Bank – controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the US-backed “reform” regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine (though Kolomoisky was eventually ousted from that post in a power struggle over control of UkrTransNafta, Ukraine’s state-owned oil pipeline operator).

Also, regarding Western energy interests, on December 13, 2013, when neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland was pushing for Yanukovych’s ouster, she reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested US$5 billion in their “European aspirations” at a conference sponsored by Chevron. Victoria Nuland even stood next to the company’s logo.

Natalie Jaresko was only one of several foreigners recruited by President Petro Poroshenko to fill key positions in the Ukrainian government, with these officials also granted instant Ukrainian citizenship. Along with Jaresko’s appointment during December 2014, Poroshenko brought onboard Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius, a partner in investment firm East Capital, as Economy Minister and Georgian Aleksander Kvitashvili, who had served as Georgia’s health minister and labor minister, as Health Minister.

In May 2015, Poroshenko appointed ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saaskashvili to be governor of Ukraine’s restive Odessa region. Saaskashvili, who faces charges in Georgia for alleged abuse of power during his presidency, also received overnight Ukrainian citizenship but — unlike Jaresko — he announced that he had dropped his Georgian citizenship, a move that short-circuited his possible extradition back to Georgia.

Another foreigner whose appointment raised eyebrows was the choice of Estonian Jaanika Merilo to be put in charge of attracting foreign investments. Merilo was a Jaresko associate known more for her personal ties to wealthy business tycoons, such as English businessman and investor Richard Branson, and kinky online photos than her skills as a technocrat.

Jaanika Merilo an Estonian brought into Ukrainian government

Hunter Biden connected to Burisma money-laundering scheme

While the America’s corporate media cartel has been making frantic bids in hiding the truth about Biden family’s financial scandal centering Ukrainian energy company Burisma, Ambassador Sondland in an exclusive story said, Burisma, thorough its founder Nikolai Zlochevsky was indicted for money laundering, including accusation that Joe Biden’s scandal-plagued son “Hunter Biden and his partners received US$16.5 million for their “services” as part of a money laundering operation that also involved the [former President Viktor] Yanukovych family, in particular, with legalizing (laundering) of criminally obtained income through Franklin Templeton Investments, an investment fund carrying out purchases of external government loan bonds totaling US$7.4 billion”.

The connection to the Franklin Templeton Fund is interesting because John Templeton, Jr. was a major Obama campaign donor, and Thomas Donilon, who was Obama’s National Security Advisor before Susan Rice and was the chairman of BlackRock Investment Institute, a major owner of Franklin Templeton stock.

In a report, Interfax-Ukraine said members of the Ukrainian Parliament demanded investigation into the matter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here