Author Archives: RomanInUkraine

PrivatBank and How Ukranian Oligarchs Buy Up Most of Cleveland and Launder $470B in the Process

In an explosive legal complaint filed last month in Delaware, attorneys for a major Ukrainian bank alleged that two oligarchs who founded the bank and controlled it from 2006 to 2016 laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent corporate loans to purchase assets in the United States and unjustly enrich themselves and their associates.

Dubbed the “Optima Schemes” in the 104-page document, these “brazen fraudulent schemes” were successful, among other things, in making the oligarchs and their co-defendants the largest commercial real estate holders in Cleveland.

(You can read the full complaint here.)

With money siphoned from public bonds and 20 million private Ukrainian citizens who’d opened accounts with PrivatBank, the oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov doled out corporate loans to shell companies that they controlled. They used PrivatBank “as their own personal piggy bank,” in the words of the complaint.

Those loans were then laundered in multiple digital transactions, sent through dozens of other shell companies that had been created exclusively for the purpose of laundering. These accounts were managed by co-conspirators at PrivatBank’s branch in Cyprus.

The true origin of the money thus concealed, funds were then shipped to LLCs in Delaware (hence the legal filing there). Those LLCs — “One Cleveland Center, LLC,” to take just one example — were used to acquire properties and metalworking facilities in the U.S. Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov are mineral magnates and own mining factories and metalworking plants in Ukraine.

The men on the ground in the United States, according to the complaint, were a Miami-based trio: Mordechai “Motti” Korf, his brother-in-law Chaim Schochet, and Uriel Laber. These three men managed the “Optima” companies: Optima International, Optima Ventures and Optima Acquisitions, all of which were created and ultimately controlled by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov.

“Optima Ventures” should be a familiar local name. It was the company, launched in 2007, used to acquire properties in the U.S. for Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov. The majority of these properties were in Cleveland.

Chaim Schochet was Optima’s “front man” in Northeast Ohio. He told the Plain Dealer in 2012that his local goals were twofold: “making money for investors betting on the upside of a Midwestern city, and contributing to the betterment of a downtown that more high-profile buyers ha[d] passed by.”

But his investors’ funds were ill-gotten, according to the complaint, proceeds from “massive, systematic and fraudulent loan misappropriation and recycling schemes. (In the 2012 PD piece referenced above, Schochet was reportedly “circumspect about discussing how [Optima Ventures] is structured or who the major investors are.”)

The loan recycling schemes were functionally identical to a ponzi scheme, except instead of paying purported profits to early investors with funds from more recent investors, the Ukrainian oligarchs and their cronies within PrivatBank paid off early fraudulent corporate loans with money from new fraudulent corporate loans. . . .

https://lostmessiahdotcom.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/privatbank-and-how-ukranian-oligarchs-buy-up-most-of-cleveland-and-launder-470b-in-the-process/

Poland moves to exempt young workers from income tax

olish lawmakers have approved a measure that would exonerate most workers under the age of 26 from income taxes as the country seeks to stem the flow of its young people to other EU nations in search of better paying jobs.

The lower house of parliament approved the measure introduced by the ruling conservatives in a vote late Thursday by an overwhelming majority.

The bill would exonerate workers under the age of 26 from Poland’s 18 percent personal income tax for those whose gross earnings don’t surpass 85,500 zlotys (20,000 euros, $22,500) per year.

That level is higher than Poland’s average income, estimated to be around 60,000 zlotys per year before tax.

The approval of the measure by the upper house of parliament and its signature by the president is widely expected.

Some two million people could benefit from the measure, according to supporters of the legislation, which should enter into force from August 1.

Kazakhstan ends bank bailouts, writes off people’s debts instead

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he’ll write off bad loans held by a sixth of the central Asian country’s population, while signaling a sharp change in policy to end costly state bailouts of private banks.

The loan-forgiveness program is Tokayev’s first major policy announcement since he was elected president on June 9 in a choreographed transfer of power that began when longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down as head of state in March. His victory was met with rare and widespread protests.

Bank bailouts are also a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan, which has been mired in a decade-long crisis in which the government has pumped at least $18 billion into lenders to keep the sector from collapsing under the weight of bad debts. The central bank is conducting a review of asset quality, prompting speculation that a new round of bailouts may be in the works.

“My attitude is that there should be no governmental bailouts” for lenders, Tokayev, 66, said in an interview Tuesday in the capital, Nur-Sultan. “My assessment of this issue as a president is that the government should not get involved any more, any longer, with its loans as far as private banks are concerned.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/kazakhstan-ends-bank-bailouts-writes-people-debts-190626093206083.html

Books and Games

* We have this children’s book about tractors with a bunch of flaps that show different animals or parts of the tractor. Some of the flaps have light sensors under them and when you open them you hear a duck quacking, or motor revving, or owl hooting. Danylo’s grandmother added family pictures to the book. Today, Danylo and I were reading it in low light, and none of the sounds played. So I suggested he go get his flashlight, and to his great delight he was able to use it trigger the sounds.

* My godmother gifted to Danylo a beautifully illustrated book with animals and poems about each animal. Today we were cross referencing each animal with this adult picture-book-encyclopedia of living things. We looked up arctic terns, blue whales, whale sharks, humming birds, golden lion tamarinds, ants, bats, beetles, and more. When we read about owls and looked them up in the picture encyclopedia, Danylo said something about his cousins that I didn’t understand, and he started looking for the tractor book. He couldn’t find it until I pointed it out. He carried it over, found the right page, and opened the flap with the owl. His grandmother had taped a photo of his cousins to the inside of the flap.

* Danylo, while were were browsing the picture book encyclopedia: I found a sun in here.
Me: (a little surprised) A sun?
Danylo: Yes, and I called mom to show her.
Me: What did mom say?
Danylo: She said wait I’ll be right there.

* We play chess, sort of. He knows that we sit opposite each other and that one of us gets the white pieces and one gets the black pieces, and that we take turns moving a piece, and that sometimes pieces capture the pieces of the opponent, and that in the end, someone wins. Oh, and he also knows that you shake hands after a game. He does not yet know how the pieces move. Also, he thinks his toy dump truck is part of the game, and can drive in and load up pieces. Sometimes the dump truck runs them over.

Here’s a video about arctic terns:

Customer Service in Ukraine is now as good as the US

I think the minimum wage in the US, combined with low unemployment forces companies to try to squeeze $15 / hour of productivity from people who aren’t the most competent. You get people answering the phone who have no authority to make their own decision or take initiative, and who just follow a script.

In Ukraine, by contrast, the economy is still young, and not sorted out, so you have very talented people working in low positions. They think and they often have authority to make common sense decisions. Except for the banks. Stay away from Ukrainian banks.

Travel vlog about Lviv

I’ve been in Ukraine a little too long to see it with fresh eyes, which is why I really enjoyed this tourist’s video blog:

Toward the end he notices the older couples and families here in Lviv. The same thing that I talk about when comparing Lviv to other places.

Whit / Green Holiday

Monday is the Orthodox holiday of Whit.

Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday (also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit) is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a moveable feast in the Christian calendar. It is moveable because it is determined by the date of Easter. In the Catholic Church, it is the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

Whit Monday gets its English name from “Whitsunday”, an English name for Pentecost, one of the three baptismal seasons. The origin of the name “Whit Sunday” is generally attributed to the white garments formerly worn by those newly baptized on this feast.[1]

https://everipedia.org/wiki/lang_en/Whit_Monday/

It is expressed in many different ways in Ukraine. In Western Ukraine, it’s called “Zeleni Sviata” or the green holiday, and there’s a tradition of putting cattail reeds in the window:

Bernie Sanders’ ‘Economic Bill of Rights’ Taken Nearly Verbatim From Stalin’s 1936 Soviet Constitution

Finally, Sanders introduces the centerpiece of his platform, which he calls “a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.”

However, there’s something deeply disturbing about Sanders’ proposal. In an appearance on Hannity, political commentator and historian Mark Levin points out that Sanders has “stolen his agenda from the 1936 Soviet Constitution.”

Here is an excerpt from Sanders’ speech:

A Bill of Rights that establishes once and for all that every American, regardless of his or her income in entitled to:

The right to a decent job that pays a living wage
The right to quality health care
The right to a complete education
The right to affordable housing
The right to a clean environment
The right to a secure retirement

These six “rights,” which define Sanders’ platform, are indistinguishable from the rights identified in the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which is also known as the Stalin Constitution.

Please read Articles 118-122 of this constitution. (Source: Bucknell University)

(Emphasis mine.)

ARTICLE 118. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to work, that is, are guaranteed the right to employment and payment for their work in accordance with its quantity and quality.

ARTICLE 119. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to rest and leisure. The right to rest and leisure is ensured by the reduction of the working day to seven hours for the overwhelming majority of the workers, the institution of annual vacations with full pay for workers and employees and the provision of a wide network of sanatoria, rest homes and clubs for the accommodation of the working people.

ARTICLE 120. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to maintenance in old age and also in case of sickness or loss of capacity to work. This right is ensured by the extensive development of social insurance of workers and employees at state expense, free medical service for the working people and the provision of a wide network of health resorts for the use of the working people.

ARTICLE 121. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to education. This right is ensured by universal, compulsory elementary education; by education, including higher education, being free of charge; by the system of state stipends for the overwhelming majority of students in the universities and colleges; by instruction in schools being conducted in the native language, and by the organization in the factories, state farms, machine and tractor stations and collective farms of free vocational, technical and agronomic training for the working people.

ARTICLE 122. Women in the U.S.S.R. are accorded equal rights with men in all spheres of economic, state, cultural, social and political life. The possibility of exercising these rights is ensured to women by granting them an equal right with men to work, payment for work, rest and leisure, social insurance and education, and by state protection of the interests of mother and child, prematernity and maternity leave with full pay, and the provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens.

The only “right” not stolen from the Stalin Constitution was the right to a clean environment. Climate change, obviously, was not an issue in 1936.

https://www.redstate.com/elizabeth-vaughn/2019/06/15/joe-biden-isnt-plagiarist-among-2020-democratic-presidential-candidates/

As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges

After nearly three years and millions of tax dollars, the Trump-Russia collusion probe is about to be resolved. Emerging in its place is newly unearthed evidence suggesting another foreign effort to influence the 2016 election — this time, in favor of the Democrats.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.
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The leak of the so-called black ledger files to U.S. media prompted Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign and gave rise to one of the key allegations in the Russia collusion probe that has dogged Trump for the last two and a half years.

Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko’s probe was prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian’s release of a tape recording purporting to quote a top law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked the Manafort financial records to help Clinton’s campaign.

The parliamentarian also secured a court ruling that the leak amounted to “an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” Lutsenko told me. Lutsenko said the tape recording is a serious enough allegation to warrant opening a probe, and one of his concerns is that the Ukrainian law enforcement agency involved had frequent contact with the Obama administration’s U.S. Embassy in Kiev at the time.

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko told me.

https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/435029-as-russia-collusion-fades-ukrainian-plot-to-help-clinton-emerges

The Hill: U.S. Embassy Pressured Ukraine Not To Investigate Liberal “Mega-Donor”

I TOLD YOU SO!

During the 2016 U.S. presidential race Ukrainian prosecutors said they were stymied by then-President Obama’s appointed U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from pursing investigations into the activities of a nonprofit known as the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC), according to John Solomon with The Hill.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who is considered a hero in the West for spending two years as a political prisoner for fighting Russian aggression in Ukraine , told Solomon that he was invited to meet new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. He was appointed to this position in 2016 and it was then that he spoke to Yovanovitch, he said.

He said they, “gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute.” According to Yovanovitch, it included a founder of the AntAC group and two members of Parliament. Those people “supported the group’s anti-corruption reform agenda, according to a source directly familiar with the meeting,” according to Solomon, who spoke to a source.

Ukrainian law enforcement was probing a group that was co-funded by the Obama administration, as well as billionaire donor George Soros. Further, according to Solomon the group was allegedly collaborating with the FBI agents investigating then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine.

https://saraacarter.com/the-hill-u-s-embassy-pressured-ukraine-not-to-investigate-liberal-mega-donor/