The United States has filed a civil forfeiture motion in a court in Florida, asking for the confiscation of a real estate complex in Dallas, Texas, that belongs to Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.
Prosecutors claim that the property was bought and maintained using funds allegedly embezzled from Ukraine’s now state-owned bank PrivatBank.
Ukraine’s largest bank, PrivatBank, previously co-owned by Kolomoisky and his business partner Hennadiy Bogolyubov, was nationalized by the Ukrainian government in 2016 to save it from collapse. Later Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau claimed the former owners had embezzled some $6 billion from the bank through illicit money laundering schemes.
Since 2016, Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov have been fighting against the Ukraine government in the courts to reverse the nationalization. Ukraine’s financial donors, such as the International Monetary Fund, support the bank’s nationalization and have threatened to cut off cooperation with Ukraine if the process is reversed.
Kolomoisky has publicly claimed he was robbed.
On Jan. 20, U.S. prosecutors claimed that more than $6 million in proceeds from the sale of commercial real estate in Dallas, Texas, maintained and improved using the proceeds of embezzlement and fraud from PrivatBank in Ukraine, are subject to forfeiture based on violations of federal money laundering statutes.
This is the fourth time the United States has ordered the seizure of assets tied to Kolomoisky. In August 2020, the United States filed two actions in the Southern District of Florida alleging that commercial real estate in Dallas and Louisville, Kentucky, was acquired using funds illegally obtained from PrivatBank in Ukraine as part of a multibillion-dollar fraudulent loan scheme.
A third suit was filed in the same district in December 2020, alleging a property in Cleveland, Ohio, was similarly involved.
All four complaints accuse Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov of embezzlement and of defrauding PrivatBank to the tune of billions of dollars.
U.S. prosecutors say that the Ukrainian oligarchs had proxies in the United States to help in these schemes – Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber – who are reported to have been operating out of a Miami-based office.
Korf and Laber created a web of entities, usually under some variation of the name “Optima,” to further launder the misappropriated funds, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release on Jan. 20.
These Kolomoisky associates purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate and businesses across the United States, including commercial towers located at 8787 North Stemmons Freeway in Dallas (Stemmons Towers), the subject of the Jan. 20 motion, as well as the office tower known as 55 Public Square in Cleveland, a Louisville office tower known as PNC Plaza, and a Dallas office park known as the former CompuCom Headquarters.