Journalists discover former Ukrainian president Poroshenko saved his business from seizure by signing it over to son in 2019

14 January 2022, 02:32 PM

Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine and a current MP from the European Solidarity party, signed over his primary business assets, including the well-known Roshen confectionery corporation, to his eldest son Oleksiy in 2019, according to investigative journalism outfit Slidstvo.Info.

The move protects his assets from seizure by court order in the wake of official charges of treason and supporting terrorism being levied against him by the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office. Other assets that are directly in his name have already been seized by the courts.

Prosecutor Yuriy Belkin, in a comment to journalists, confirmed that the Roshen corporation had indeed not been put on the list of assets subject to seizure.

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Roshen is considered the most valuable of the assets attributed to the former president.According to Forbes, Roshen is valued at over $1.1 billion. In total, Poroshenko’s wealth, including Roshen, has been estimated at $1.6 billion.Slidstvo.Info investigators discovered that Oleksiy, Poroshenko’s 36-year-old son, currently owns about five dozen companies which are directly related to the Roshen corporation.

In November 2014, Oleksiy Poroshenko was elected to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, as a member of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, a political party founded by Poroshenko and which served as a predecessor to the current European Solidarity party. He did not take part in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Oleksiy Poroshenko did not declare any owned companies in asset declarations filed during his time as an MP. However, within a few months of filing, he became the owner of the Roshen corporation, including the main Ukrainian branch and its foreign subsidiaries.

The change of ownership took place just when Ukrainian law enforcement officers began to take an active interest in Petro Poroshenko, the Slidstvo.Info investigation discovered.

Volodymyr Landa, deputy editor-in-chief at Forbes Ukraine, claims that Poroshenko Jr. is the nominal owner of the assets, but that the former president is still the de facto owner.

Petro Poroshenko’s press service has commented on the investigation, stating that Oleksiy Poroshenko stopped his political career in 2019, after which, by the decision of the trust manager, he was granted all the rights and powers of the ultimate beneficial owner of a “blind” trust set up for the Roshen assets.

“This is exclusively due to the termination of the political activities of Oleksiy Poroshenko and the further provision of the separation of Petro Poroshenko’s political activities from business,” the press service said.

At the same time, the former president himself still directly owns about a dozen companies.However, many of these remaining companies have posted financial losses in recent years, while others have not filed financial statements at all, according to tax service documents cited by the journalists.

A few of the former president’s companies have been more successful – in particular, the International Investment Bank and the Fifth Element fitness club. In 2020, their income amounted to about UAH 7 million ($252,369). These companies were seized by court order, and may be confiscated if the former president is found guilty.

High treason case against Poroshenko

The treason charges the former president is now facing stem from allegedly criminal schemes for importing coal from Russian-occupied areas of the Donbas region – formerly Ukraine’s key coal-mining region.The Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation alleges that Poroshenko abused his power and influence to annul coal contracts with South Africa and later, at Russia’s behest, signed contracts for coal supply from the Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine, allegedly making “…Ukraine’s energy supply dependent on Russia and Russia-controlled self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.”

European Solidarity have denied the charges against Poroshenko and accused incumbent Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of trying to repress his political opponents.Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court on Jan. 6 ordered the seizure of the property owned by Poroshenko.

The property seized by the court includes several apartments in the cities of Vinnytsia and Kyiv, a manor house in the village of Kozyn, 25 kilometers to the south of the capital, land plots, and shares in private companies.

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