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Ukraine Places Former Energy Regulator Chief On Wanted List

The former head of Ukraine’s energy regulator, Dmytro Vovk, is being placed on an international wanted list for alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar electricity price-fixing scheme.

“Due to the fact that the suspect is outside Ukraine and does not appear for questioning, he has been put on the international wanted list,” the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said on Facebook on August 20.

Vovk’s lawyer said he is currently studying at Harvard University, Ukrainian news site Hromadske reported.

Earlier, Vovk stated he is in self-imposed exile.

“As long as the head of the presidential office controls" the country’s anti-corruption law enforcement agencies, as well as the judiciary, "I'm not ready to come" to Ukraine, said Vovk, who headed the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission for nearly three years until May 2018.

Vovk and three current or former regulators are suspected of colluding with executives of DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest power and coal producer, to allegedly manipulate prices on coal-generated electricity that forced consumers to overpay $747 million in 2016-2017.

DTEK allegedly benefited $560 million in the scheme.

Vovk dismissed the charges of “abuse of office” as “a wild goose chase” in a previous Facebook post.

There is “no legitimate basis for suspicions set out in the investigation,” DTEK said in an August 8 statement, the same day the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) pressed charges.

A DTEK official was on August 16 released on bail for $380,000 and another manager was released for $400,000 on August 14.

“The positions taken consistently by the court reflect the baseless nature of the allegations made by NABU against DTEK employees,” DTEK said in a statement. “The material presented at the pretrial investigation do not confirm the resonant statements made publicly by NABU’s representatives at the outset of the investigation.”

Ukraine's richest billionaire Rinat Akhmetov owns DTEK, which is part of his System Capital Management holding company.

The so-called Rotterdam+ pricing formula that NABU has been investigating since March 2017 was in place from April 2016 until July of this year.

It based the wholesale price of electricity by Ukrainian thermal power plants on coal prices set in the Rotterdam port plus delivery costs to Ukraine.

NABU alleges that at certain times it has not seen documented proof that the purchased coal originated in Rotterdam, maintaining that there was no justification for the price hikes.

For more than a year until December 2014, Vovk was the national manager in Russia for Ukrainian chocolatier Roshen owned by ex-President Petro Poroshenko.

He was a vice president of the Kyiv-based Investment Capital Ukraine investment bank in 2009-2013.

With reporting by Hromadske
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