Authorities in Ukraine say they have detained a businessman and former politician, who is suspected of embezzling more than $100 million, at a posh ski resort in the French Alps.
Kostyantyn Valentynovych Zhevago is a Ukrainian entrepreneur and was the first Eastern European to present one of his companies — Ferrexpo to the London Stock Exchange. He also holds a post of FC Vorskla honorary president, and was a member of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament of Ukraine) from 1998 until 2019. Most notably, Zhevago was the former CFO of Ukraine’s now extinct ‘Finances and Credit’ conglomerate. Bank Finance and Credit was established in 1990 and according to the National Bank of Ukraine ratings it belonged to the group of the major banks in Ukraine by the volume of assets. In 2015, the national banking registry of Ukraine withdrew the Finance and Credit licenses and liquidated the bank with the help of KPMG.
In 2019, Ukrainian authorities filed a criminal complaint against him. They alleged that he, together with other top executives from Finance & Credit Bank, stole more than $100 million from the institution. Their alleged scheme violated “the interests of the state and the bank’s depositors,” according to the investigative department.
Zhevago was the subject of a Ukrainian arrest order issued in 2019 for the same case, and a subsequent international warrant in 2021. The authorities in Ukraine seized Zhevago’s houses, his affiliated businesses, a $70m Amels Yacht, and other assets totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. As of 2022, his net worth is ~1.4 Billion.
This morning, according to a statement from the State Bureau of Investigations of Ukraine, French police detained Zhevago on Tuesday in a hotel in Courchevel based on an international warrant. It stated that Zhevago would appear in court in Chambery on Wednesday as the initial step toward eventual extradition.
His appearance in court on Wednesday or Thursday for the first round of the extradition request process was confirmed by the Chambery prosecutor’s office, which also confirmed his arrest. The prosecutor’s office declined to provide any additional information on the case and is awaiting documentation from Ukraine proving the extradition request.
Zhevago was the principal beneficiary of Finance & Credit Bank and the former chief executive of mining company Ferrexpo, which is among the world’s top exporters of iron ore pellets and had an operating bank in central Ukraine. From 1998 through 2019, Zhevago mostly served as an independent in the Ukrainian parliament.
The arrest was announced as France’s defense minister visited Ukraine to show French military support for Ukrainian forces. His office said the arrest had no link to the visit, and this was the first visit by a French defense chief since Russia invaded Ukraine.