Pechersky District Court of Kyiv has seized securities, corporate and intellectual property rights, real estate and inventory belonging to the Ukrainian Media Holding (UMH group), the court’s ruling dated 15 December reads, Interfax-Ukraine reports.
According to the court ruling, the arrest property and rights belonging to UMH group was imposed as part of the criminal investigation regarding facts of tax evasion, money laundering, organization of fictitious entrepreneurship that has caused major material damage, as well as a number of other crimes.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, over 400 businesses registered in Ukraine were operating with signs of criminal activity, most of which appearing fictitious, companies registered in tax havens (Cyprus, Panama, Hong Kong, Belize, British Virgin Islands), open bank accounts (predominantly in Latvia).
“The pretrial investigation in this proceedings established that transactions related to the acquisition of shares in various media outlets, corporate rights to them, and repayment of a $160 million loan provided by Ukreximbank to Vetek Media Invest under a loan agreement dated 28 October 2013, have signs of laundering of funds from criminal activities,” the court explained.
The text of the document indicated a risk of losing the assets. If they are proven to be of illicit origin, they are subject to special confiscation procedures. The court approved the request of investigators and prosecutors, seizing the property owned by UMH group.
The end beneficiary of UMH group is businessman Serhiy Kurchenko, who fled to Russia in 2014. Kurchenko’s VETEK and UMH groups closed the deal of purchase and sale of the media holding ahead of schedule on 6 November 2013. The Prosecutor General’s Office included Kurchenko in its wanted list in March 2014. UMH group operates around 50 media brands including radio stations and printed periodicals such as Korrespondent, Vogue, Telenedelya, Forbes Ukraine, Arguments and Facts in Ukraine, Komsomolskaya Pravda, i.ua, bigmir.net, football.ua, Nashe radio, Retro FM, Autoradio, Europa Plus and more.