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28 Dec, 2022 19:56

Ukrainian oligarch detained at iconic French ski resort

Former MP Konstantin Zhevago has been accused of embezzlement and money laundering
Ukrainian oligarch detained at iconic French ski resort

French police have detained Ukrainian oligarch Konstantin Zhevago at the lavish Alpine ski resort of Courchevel on Wednesday, at Kiev’s request. The businessman and former MP is wanted at home in connection with a major money laundering and embezzlement case.

Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), which was the first to announce the arrest, said it had “worked hard” to detain the billionaire, having sought the assistance of some 38 other nations to apprehend Zhevago. The detention eventually came following “several months” of “close interaction” with the French police, gendarmerie and judiciary, it added.

A French court is expected to rule later on Wednesday on whether Zhevago will be placed in custody while Kiev prepares an extradition request, the SBI said.

At home, the businessman is accused of embezzling $113 million from Ukraine’s Finance and Credit Bank, thus harming the interests of the state and the bank’s clients. He also faces money laundering charges, according to law enforcement.

Ukraine had already seized Zhevago's assets, including “shares of his enterprises worth hundreds of millions of hryvnas” and 26 real estate properties. He was also one of the businessmen whose assets were nationalized by Kiev in November.

Zhevago was the main beneficiary of Finance and Credit Bank, one of the largest lenders in Ukraine before 2015, when it had its banking license withdrawn. He is also the founder and majority shareholder of the Swiss-based commodity trading and mining company Ferrexpo, which claims to be “the third largest exporter of iron ore pellets in the world.” The company owns iron ore mines in Ukraine.

The billionaire was also a long-time Ukrainian MP. He occupied a seat in the country’s Verkhovna Rada for over two decades between 1998 and 2019.

According to Forbes, Zhevago is still the fifth richest person in Ukraine, although his net worth fell from $2.1 billion to $1.4 billion in 2022.