NABU suspects former Naftogaz head Kobolev of embezzling over $6 million

19 January, 01:43 PM
Andriy Kobolev, former head of Naftogaz (Photo:Група Нафтогаз / Facebook)

Andriy Kobolev, former head of Naftogaz (Photo:Група Нафтогаз / Facebook)

National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) has informed former chairman of the board of Naftogaz of Ukraine Andriy Kobolev that he is suspected of misappropriating more than UAH 229 million ($6 million) in 2018.

Naftogaz of Ukraine is the largest national oil and gas company in Ukraine. It is a state-owned company subordinated to the government of Ukraine.

According to the NABU press service, the head of the company (from 2014 to 2021) in May 2018, contrary to the requirements of the law, issued an order to award the company’s employees with bonuses, on the basis of which he was paid almost UAH 261 million ($10 million) for extraordinary achievements.

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The bonuses came after the company won $4.6 billion in damages in a court case against Russia’s Gazprom state gas company in a dispute over the contract for the purchase and sale of natural gas in 2009−2019.

The amount of bonuses awards significantly exceeded the normatively defined amounts of such payments (UAH 37.48 million or $1 million), said the NABU.

In addition, Kobolev was paid a bonus of UAH 12.49 million in 2017 for similar achievements.

In general, during 2018, according to the investigation, more than UAH 229.25 million ($6 million) was illegally paid to the suspect at the expense of the company (the difference between the actually paid bonus and its maximum permissible amount).

In 2018, Naftogaz's supervisory board approved the payment of bonuses in amounts of 1% of the amount won in the Stockholm court against Gazprom ($4.6 billion). At that time, the first part of bonuses was paid in the amount of $20.7 million, which corresponded to 1% of the amount of profit recognized in the financial statements of Naftogaz for 2017.

Money was received by 41 company employees from among those who directly or indirectly made a significant contribution to achieving court win. Among them are Andriy Kobolev, the former chairman of the board of Naftogaz of Ukraine, and Yuriy Vitrenko, the company’s former commercial director.

The rest of the premiums were to be paid after the rest of the damages were collected from Gazprom. The money was received only at the end of 2019. Due to fines, the amount increased to USD 2.9 billion, accordingly, top managers, according to the contract, were supposed to receive about $29 million dollars.

At the end of 2019, Gazprom paid Naftogaz $2.9 billion, but the second part of the bonuses was not paid, as in early February 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers asked the Supervisory Board of Naftogaz to suspend the payment of bonuses.

In December 2020, Yuriy Vitrenko stated that he received the second part of the award for the victory over Gazprom in the Stockholm arbitration not in money, but in hryvnia government bonds.

Kobolev stated in June 2021 that he never received the second part of the bonus for the victory.

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