Journalists claim that Ukraine’s National Bank official Natalia Degtyareva operates in Russia’s interests

For many years corrupt money have been ensuring Russia being present within Ukraine’s high-level institutions. But after Vladimir Putin’s armies had invaded on February 24, Ukraine began a rapid cleansing from Russia’s influence and betrayers. Dozens of officials who worked for Moscow and carried out subversive activities in Ukraine have been exposed. But this process is not over yet.

Russian business under the nose of the National Bank of Ukraine

Civil society in Ukraine is fighting to dismiss the head of Banking Supervision Department at the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), Natalia Degtyareva. Journalists have found ample evidence of Mrs. Degtyareva’s department ignoring and sometimes openly promoting operation of Russian capital assents in Ukraine, while fierce fighting with Russia’s army is going on the frontlines.

European Union has imposed sanctions against oligarchs from inner circle of President Putin — Petr Aven, Mikhail Fridman and German Khan, but their Alfa-Bank continues operating in Ukraine, under a Sense Bank brand though. Economist Boris Kushniruk believes that this fact is undermining the President of Ukraine as well as the NBU management team.

Rally participants protest against activity of Mrs. Degtyareva holding banners saying: “Alpha phemale, get out of National Bank”

“Mrs. Degtyareva has been associated with Alfa-Bank since at least 2018,” Mr. Kushniruk says. The Banking Supervision Department is not paying attention at withdrawing funds from the bank before its potential nationalization. Over the past year, 65% of corporate clients’ funds and about 25% of individuals’ funds left Alfa-Bank, and the capital outflow almost doubled by autumn, reaching €175 million per month.

Insider UA online outlet reports that part of the money withdrawn from the Sense Bank could have been spent to support Russia’s troops.             

An even bigger scandal with Mrs. Degtyareva broke out when the facts of her protectorship of activity of 1xBet, a Russian bookmaker company, were revealed in Ukraine. Under the guise of a European company, Russians entered Ukrainian market in spring of 2022, in the midst of a full-scale invasion. Quite quickly, Ukrainian journalists investigated a connection between the bookmaker company and Russia’s security agencies — the company transferred 1% of their profit for treatment of soldiers of Russian army. But Mrs. Degtyareva and her National Bank’s department turned their blind eyes to these facts until their case hit the desk of President Zelensky. The President imposed sanctions against a partner of 1xBet — Latvian company Royal Pay Europe. €80 million of company’s funds were frozen on Ukrainian their accounts.

According to a famous financial journalist Sergei Lyamets, an official should resign after a scandal like this.

The resignation of Mrs. Degtyareva could have happened back in autumn, when Ukrainian Parliament dismissed the head of NBU, Kyrylo Shevchenko, who had been accused of embezzling €5 million from the state-owned Ukrgasbank. Mrs. Degtereva was considered to be a part of Mr. Shevchenko’s team, and, according to Ukrainian journalists, she is a successor to his corruption schemes in the regulating body. “Operation of Russian companies in financial market of Ukraine has been “blessed” by Shevchenko, the head of the NBU, and Degtyareva is his protégée and a curator of the sphere,” a source familiar with the situation told us. The Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine put Kirill Shevchenko on the wanted list, perhaps his companion-in-arms will also find herself in this status.

“Degryareva to jail!”  – Ukrainians protest against the National Bank official

Journalist Nazar Prikhodko filed an application with the Security Service of Ukraine against Mrs. Degtyareva for committing a crime. “In case Ukraine’s Security Service confirms the facts of patronizing of 1xBet, Ms. Degtyareva will not only lose her office, but will have other consequences amidst martial law,” Mr. Lyamets believes.

These are only two cases of many with Mrs. Degtyareva’s involvement. And all of them are linked to Russia.

Fraud and Russian trace in Ukrainian banks

A small ComInBank is officially registered with British investor Stefan Paul Pinter. However journalists proved that it is owned by a Crimean businessman with Russian citizenship, who is also a defendant in criminal cases Yevgeny Kazmin, who had previously been suspected of financing separatism in Crimea. This bank is one of Ukraine’s leading financial institutions in servicing transactions of prohibited activities. This is about transfers in areas of drug trafficking, gambling, pornography, for which the bank had been sanctioned by Mastercard. The department of Mrs. Degtyareva is aware of this bank’s activities, but opted to settle for a symbolic €175,000 fine last year.

Journalists point at another similar financial institution which provides transactions of prohibited activities, and which is still operating even during war time. For working with the Russian crypto exchange SUEX ConcordBank came under US sanctions in September 2021. ConcordBank performed payments for Russian citizens at Hydra, the biggest drug trading platform, whose turnover is at least €1.5 billion per year in Russia. Under US government pressure, the National Bank of Ukraine issued to ConcordBank a fine of €1.5 million for legalizing “dirty” money. However, Ukrainian media report that Ms. Degtyareva had saved ConcordBank from its liquidation.

There are many publications in the Ukrainian media regarding Mrs. Degtyareva’s department ignoring violations in a small Alliance bank, which is indirectly owned by an oligarch linked to Russia — Dmitry Firtash. The National Police of Ukraine uncovered a scheme of legalizing and withdrawing €163 million to Russia in 2019 – 2020. Investigations indicate that financing terrorists in occupied Donbas had been performed via Alliance Bank and Russian company GlobalMoney. The bank also appeared in the scheme of a €100 million embezzlement from the national holding Naftogaz. However, banking supervising body turned its blind eye to these facts, and during the war Alliance bank was engaged in withdrawal of depositors’ funds under the guise of unsecured loans to companies affiliated with Firtash, who brought to bankruptcy Nadra and Rodovid banks using this fraud scheme.

Protesters bring Russian rubles as a symbol of activity of Mrs. Degtyareva

Neither has Mrs. Degtyareva noticed Ukraine’s activity of another bank of Yevgeny Giner, a sanctioned Russian oligarch. Investigation has found a connection between Giner and Rostec corporation, which is supplying weapons and ammunition for Russian army. However, PIN Bank used to belong to the oligarch until the end of autumn 2022, and now it has been placed under the management of the state. A similar situation is with another Russian bank in Ukraine — Forward Bank. It belonged to the Russian Standard group of Rustam Tariko, now it is under control of the state. However, the former owners of banks still retain their influence on the financial institution via management group, which has kept their seats.

“The agent was recruited a long time ago”

 “While Ukraine is making titanic efforts in military and diplomatic spheres, fighting with tremendous difficulties to get supported with latest weapons, almost nameless people are undermining this process from the inside, ensuring Russian financial sector functioning in Ukraine during war,” Mr. Kushniruk believes.

Journalists and civil society in Ukraine fear that Mrs. Degtyareva is one of plenty of Russia’s agents in Ukrainian government.

“National Bank of Ukraine is a body that ensures financial security of our country. But there exist direct evidence that enemy’s agents are working in this body,” volunteer Alexander Aronets says. He points out that Mrs. Degtyareva knew who was behind the 1xBet bookmaker company and that this company is financing Russian army, but has not stopped its activities. “I have only one theory ­– the agent was recruited a long time ago and systematically received payment for his traitorous services. Law enforcement officers will be able to find and document accounts, and to find out the amount of funds,” Mr. Aronets adds.

According to our information from various sources, the services of Mrs. Degtyareva cost every financial institution about €50,000 in cash per month. In 2021, she produced changes to her tax declaration 30 times, becoming a millionaire.

Journalist Nazar Prikhodko admits that Mrs. Degtyareva was recruited by the Russians before the 2014 revolution when she worked at Prominvestbank, owned by Russia’s VEB national development bank, known as “Putin’s bank.”

He is sure that such activity of the head of banking supervision of Ukraine’s National Bank threatens national security of Ukraine.

Source: london24news