Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned that a court decision declaring the nationalization of a major bank was illegal could pose great risks to Ukraine if the bank is returned to its previous owner, oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy.
A Ukrainian court ruled on April 18 that the government's decision in 2016 to nationalize the country's biggest lender, PrivatBank, violated the law.
Poroshenko called the court verdict "a reckless move" and said it could cause Ukraine to default on its loans and create a "new economic crisis."
Kolomoyskiy's chances of receiving compensation for the loss of the bank or even of having the bank returned to him increased due to the court decision.
"That means I won. I won the lawsuit," Kolomoyskiy said after receiving word of the decision.
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) vowed to appeal the ruling, arguing it would be impossible to reverse the nationalization of PrivatBank, which was founded by Kolomoyskiy, who in the past filed multiple court cases against the decision.
"Therefore the government and the national bank are doing the right thing to challenge this decision," Poroshenko said.
Kolomoyskiy is also a backer of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comic actor facing off against incumbent Petro Poroshenko in the country's presidential runoff on April 21.
The government took PrivatBank from Kolomoyskiy in 2016 and then propped up the lender with billions of dollars.
The government wants to recover money it says was siphoned out while Kolomoyskiy owned it. Kolomoyskiy denies any wrongdoing and says the bank was forcibly nationalized without proper justification.
"The court ruling has yet to come into effect and will be appealed by the NBU," Viktor Hryhorchuk, head of litigation at the central bank's legal department, said in a statement.
Lawsuits challenging the nationalization of PrivatBank "deal irreversible damage to Ukraine's international image," the central bank said in the same statement.