Ukrainian agricultural branch was quite a success. Moreover, most lands in Ukraine fell under control of local oligarchs, not the small farmers or international corporations. As a result Ukrainian raw food products apply significant pressure to European markets. With the beginning of war things changed even more dramatic. Ukrainian grain and animal products flooded European markets without any discretion. European farmers are struggling while Ukrainian oligarchy got a carte blanche to use subsidies and credits. Europe forgot that by assisting oligarchy we don’t help Ukrainians. The case of a troubled billionaire Yuriy Kosiuk and ever-growing investment in his company, MHP, is an example of how not to help Ukraine in its battle against aggression.
Yuriy Kosiuk and MHP: why EBRD put credit line on hold
A Ukrainian poultry market operator, “Mironovsky Khliboproduct” (MHP), owned by billionaire Yuriy Kosiuk, is facing trouble due to its direct links with individuals involved in high-profile criminal investigations. As per an Austrian media outlet, Kurier, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has suspended MHP’s credit line. The credit line was initially intended to assist MHP in acquiring Perutnina, a Slovenian agrarian holding. MHP’s misuse of a loophole in the EU Association Agreement, which allowed it to export more poultry than the prescribed quota, led to the loss of its credit line.
MHP has claimed that they will receive the credit at a later time, which could be a valid statement. The European Union has provided Yuriy Kosiuk with additional time to rectify the situation. The EU has granted this time not only for Kosiuk to abandon the unlawful practice but also to restore the company’s reputation after the reported criminal links.
Alexey Omelyanenko and Yuriy Kosiuk: shadows of the past friendship or mutual benefits for both parties?
As per Kurier, the EBRD bank discovered the links between Yuriy Kosiuk and Alexey Omelyanenko, the former co-owner of the now-nationalized “Ukrgasbank,” during a compliance test. Omelyanenko is involved in numerous criminal cases and investigations and has been accused of laundering hundreds of millions of hryvnias from “Ukrgasbank” while serving as deputy CEO and later as a member of the supervisory board.
Alexey Omelyanenko and “Ukrgasbank” affair
Alexey Omelyanenko is suspected of multiple crimes, including grand larceny, criminal conspiracy, leading a criminal group, and abuse of authority. It was discovered that in 2008-2009, Omelyanenko established a scheme to siphon state funds out of the bank by renting commercial real estate that the bank had no intention of using. As a result, “Ukrgasbank” lost 39 million hryvnias.
This is not the only criminal case Omelyanenko has been involved in. He has been summoned to court and accused of misappropriating 100 million hryvnias of state funds. During the investigation, Omelyanenko was arrested twice in April 2018 and February 2019 and spent several months in jail.
Yuriy Kosiuk and Alexey Omelyanenko: what has triggered EBRD attention?
The connection between MHP, a highly successful agricultural enterprise, and Omelyanenko may not be immediately obvious. However, an audit of Yuriy Kosiuk’s property revealed that Omelyanenko was his business partner until 2014 and co-owned five companies within the MHP holding. In four of these companies – OOO “Niva” (Niva Ltd.), OOO “Lemishevskoe” (Lemishevskoe Ltd.), OOO “Baryshevskoe” (Baryshevskoe Ltd.), and OOO “Urozhay” (Urozhay Ltd.) – Omelyanenko was a direct co-owner. Kosiuk’s ownership was established through his shares in OOO “Zernovoy Kray” (Zernovoy Kray Ltd.). Yuriy Melnik, who has served as the CEO of MHP for a long time, represents Kosiuk’s interests in the fifth company, OOO “Agro-S” (Agro-S Ltd.).
The revelation sheds light on how Omelyanenko, who appears to be financially struggling and was unable to pay bail while under arrest, can still afford a luxurious lifestyle. However, in 2014, when Omelyanenko’s usual sources of income were cut off, his criminal associates fled the country. Given the potential danger posed to MHP’s reputation in Ukraine and Europe by an open partnership with a criminal financier, Omelyanenko decided to conceal his share in the company. His name is no longer visible in the registration data following a property reshuffle.
An analysis of Omelyanenko’s personal and behavioural patterns reveals that he has a total distrust even towards his closest partners. This trait is not entirely unfounded, as he has been known to extort shares and property from his unsuspecting partners on multiple occasions.
One of Omelyanenko’s former partners who suffered a similar fate is Vasily Gorbal, who co-owned “Ukrgasbank” with him. Gorbal was fraudulently deprived of “Ukrkart,” a profitable payment card issuing business. Gorbal has been seeking justice in Ukrainian courts and fighting to regain control of his company from his former partner.
This is the main reason why Omelyanenko did not hide his shares too deeply. He simply transferred the assets to his family members. However, there could be another explanation. This simplistic scheme of covering his presence in the MHP holding may serve as a backup plan against the possibility of Kosiuk refusing to further cooperate with Omelyanenko. In such a scenario, it would be too easy to prove that Kosiuk was too indiscriminate in his business ties and partners.
As a result, the auditors from EBRD did not face any difficulties in discovering the following information:
Alexey Omelyanenko still controls some parts of MHP empire
The EBRD report uncovered that the prominent billionaire and fraudulent financier, with the assistance of his family, still maintains business partnerships and co-owns multiple agricultural companies. The final report, which was presented to the EBRD management prior to their decision on the MHP credit, highlighted at least two of these companies: OOO Agrokryazh (Agrokryazh Ltd.) and OOO Agro-S (Agro-S Ltd.).
The first company is a result of merging four other companies, as indicated in Figure 1, and is jointly owned by AO «Yukon» (a closed non-diversified venture corporate investment fund) and PJSC MHP of Yuriy Kosiuk. Omelyanenko is the ultimate beneficiary of AO «Yukon». As for Agro-S, Omelyanenko’s personal share is represented by AO «Yukon», while Yuriy Fedorovich Melnik represents his interests in the company.
The ownership structure of the potential credit recipient is linked with criminal activity. It is clear that Omelyanenko did not fund the companies with his banker’s salary, but rather with his connections to his billionaire partner, Yuriy Kosiuk. While this type of business relationship may be common in Ukraine, it is not acceptable in the European financial community.
As a result, the credit line requested by MHP was refused. It is now the responsibility of the owner of the London-listed Ukrainian agrarian holding to decide what risks are acceptable for their shareholders and the international business circles.