German media sheds light on Zelensky’s ‘secret deals’
German newspaper Die Welt has put Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s “secret deals” under the microscope by carrying an extract from a new book which suggests the head of state may have evaded taxes at home.
The paper cited parts of “Zelensky: A Biography” that deal with alleged cases of corruption involving the Ukrainian leader.
It says that in 2019, Zelensky was found to have offshore accounts in Cyprus, and research by Slidstvo.info revealed that the former comedian owns companies in the British Virgin Islands and Belize, including the “previously unknown” Maltex Multicapital Corp., which owns apartments in central London worth $7.5 million.
The corporation is also said to have received a total of $40 million from Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoysky since 2012. Zelensky apparently transferred his shares in this company to a close friend shortly before the 2019 presidential election, which he went on to win.
While it was not clear what the purpose behind the scheme was, Ukrainian investigative journalists speculated at the time that Zelensky might have used it to dodge taxes at home, or that he participated in money laundering for Kolomoysky.
The excerpt also states that the airing of a documentary called ‘Offshore 95’, which centered on Zelensky’s alleged shady dealings revealed in the Pandora Papers, was canceled in Kiev at the last minute last October. The cinema’s manager had apparently received a call from the SBU, Ukraine’s security service, the extract said, citing Ukrainian media. It was only thanks to public outcry that the screening did take place later in the day, it said.
Despite initially refusing to answer questions posed by Slidstvo.info, Zelensky’s office explained in October 2021 that “everyone relocated their business abroad, especially in the TV industry” during the “Yanukovich times,” a reference to former President Viktor Yanukovich. Zelensky also claimed that the tax authorities looked into his dealings “almost every day” at the time, implying that they never found any violations. He also vehemently denied involvement in any money laundering, but dodged a question about whether he had actually paid all the taxes due at all times.
A journalist from Slidstvo.info was, however, apparently not satisfied with the president’s reply and suggested the next day that the mere existence of this offshore corporation pointed to the fact that Zelensky does not “trust the country in which you built up your business and which you are in charge of.”
“You want to conceal something, and you have a reason for that,” she said.
According to the book, on October 27, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention announced that it had conducted a probe into Zelensky’s business activities and found nothing illegal.