Editor's Note. Ukraine's great bank robbers
Clearly, we at the Kyiv Post have been sleeping all these years because we keep missing our chances to get rich in Ukraine. The nation's now-disgraced – but wealthy and unpunished – former bankers could have shown us the way. Some of them mastered the art of stealing at least three times from Ukrainians as they amassed, in some cases, billion-dollar fortunes.
The first theft came when they opened a bank (requiring no disclosure of ownership before 2014), took deposits from an unsuspecting public, sometimes promising exorbitantly high interest rates. They then lent the deposits to themselves or their friends or their companies, with no intention of repaying.
The second theft came when the shell game could no longer be sustained and the bank collapsed. So they robbed the Ukrainian taxpayers, who have had to fork over $3 billion and counting to guarantee the insured deposits of individuals (up to a legal maximum of Hr 200,000 or $8,000 per person).
The third theft came when some of these bank owners, until earlier this year, were able to buy confiscated assets on the cheap from failed banks in rigged, unpublicized and uncompetitive auctions.
In America’s bank-robbing gangster era of the 1930s, John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Alvin Karpis, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and "Slick" Willie Sutton cleaned out bank after bank, often violently.
Financially, however, these Americans were amateurish pikers compared to the likes of Ukraine's great bank robbers of the early 21st century: Andriy and Serhiy Klyuyev, Dmytro Firtash, Viktor Polishchuk, Mykola Lagun, Kostyantyn Zhevago, Serhiy Kurchenko and Leonid Klimov. The list is likely to grow.
These and others managed to wreck Ukraine's banking system and rack up $11.4 billion in losses for a nation that teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as the looting came to light after the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014. ➝