Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.S. Lawmakers Invite Ukraine's Former National Bank Chief After Reports Of Attacks

Valeria Hontareva speaks during an interview in London on September 14.
Valeria Hontareva speaks during an interview in London on September 14.

The former governor of the National Bank of Ukraine has been invited to the United States to address lawmakers after she was nearly run over and her home set ablaze.

Representative Marcy Kaptur (Democrat-Ohio) told a Washington conference on September 18 that she was troubled by the attacks against Valeria Hontareva, who fought corruption as Ukraine's top banker.

"I am trying to get her here to address us in some manner," said Kaptur, who is the co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We are following those events very closely, and the idea that fear and crime and murder and destruction are the path of the future is one that we simply don’t accept."

Hontareva and her family have faced a series of attacks over the past month in what she says is retaliation for her actions to clean up the banking sector as chief of the central bank from June 2014 to May 2017.

The attacks have raised concern in the United States, the biggest supporter of Ukraine, about tycoon influence over the country's novice president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Hontareva’s residence in the village of Horenychi outside Kyiv was set ablaze in the early morning hours of September 17. That attack followed the torching of her daughter-in-law's car outside the family home in central Kyiv on September 5.

Hontareva was struck by a car in London and hospitalized on August 26. The car drove off and the driver has yet to be found. London police are investigating the incident.

Hontareva told RFE/RL earlier this week that she believed that her enemies, including tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy, are going after her over her decision in 2016 to nationalize PrivatBank.

Kolomoyskiy is now contesting that decision in court.

Kaptur also said she was concerned about reports that Kolomoyskiy scooped up a lot of assets in the state of Ohio.

PrivatBank filed a lawsuit against Kolomoyskiy in Delaware in May claiming he laundered money from his own bank to buy real estate and metal plants in the United States.

The bank claimed that Kolomoyskiy and his Ukrainian partner were the largest owners of commercial real estate in the city of Cleveland.

"It is very hard to get information on that. We have been trying to find who represented his interests inside of Cleveland, Ohio," Kaptur told RFE/RL on the sidelines of the conference, adding that reports indicated his representatives were from Florida.

"But everything seems to have just evaporated, so I have no documentation at the present time of whether those investments are actually current, if they ever existed, and to what extent they existed. But am I concerned? Very."

  • 16x9 Image

    Todd Prince

    Todd Prince is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL based in Washington, D.C. He lived in Russia from 1999 to 2016, working as a reporter for Bloomberg News and an investment adviser for Merrill Lynch. He has traveled extensively around Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.