Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoyskyi (Ukrainian: Ігор Валерійович Коломойський; Russian: Игорь Валерьевич Коломойский, Igor Kolomoisky; born February 13, 1963) is a Ukrainian-Cypriot-Israeli business oligarch of Jewish descent and the former Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
A multibillionaire, Kolomoyskyi is rated as the second or third richest person in Ukraine (after Rinat Akhmetov and/or Viktor Pinchuk) since 2006 and 377th richest person in the world by the Forbes (as of 2011.) According to the Forbes, his net worth is USD 3b, while the Korrespondent considers it to be USD 6.5b. Kolomoyskyi is the leading partner of the Privat Group and a de facto chairman of the FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Ihor Kolomoyskyi's name in English is also spelled as Igor/Ihor Kolomoyskyi/Kolomoysky/Kolomoisky/Kolomoiskiy/Kolomoyskiy.
Kolomoyskyi is often nicknamed Benya (Беня) (which is a Russian-Jewish short name popular in the early 20th century) and Bonifatsiy after a character in the popular Russian animated film "Каникулы Бонифация" ("Bonifacy's holidays") made in 1965 by Soyuzmultfilm, whose image is visually similar to Kolomoyskyi's in appearance and hairstyle.
Kolomoyskyi was born in a Jewish family of engineers. Kolomoyskyi graduated from the Dnipropetrovsk Metallurgical Institute in 1985. He is married with two children.
Kolomoyskyi is the co-founder of the PrivatBank (and its informal Privat Group, respectively) and was appointed Chairman of its Board of Directors in 1997. Other fields of activity include: ferroalloys, finance, oil products, mass media, metal and petroleum industries (also in Russia and Romania).
Kolomoysky has a triple Ukrainian-Israeli-Cyprus citizenship because dual citizenship is not recognized by Ukraine Kolomoyskyi explained that: "The constitution prohibits double citizenship but triple citizenship is not forbidden.”
Through PrivatBank he controls Aerosvit Airlines, Dniproavia and Donbassaero. Through the asset management company Mansvell Enterprises Limited, he controls Skyways Express, City Airline, and Cimber Sterling aviation companies.
Part of his vast business empire is Burisma Holdings Ldt, Ukraine’s largest private gas firm. Shortly after Russia annexed Crimea, while U. S. Vice-President Joe Biden was engaged in diplomatic talks with Ukraine, Burisma announced that Hunter Biden joined the board of the company.
Kolomoyskyi is a billionaire listed in 2007 by Forbes as the 799th-richest man in the world (with 3.8 billion dollars, in 2010 Kyiv Post estimated his wealth at $6.243 billion.) In March 2012 Forbes placed him 377th with $3 billion. In 2010 Kyiv Post listed Kolomoyskyi as the second richest person in Ukraine; in 2012 Forbes rated him the third richest person in Ukraine. In these lists Kolomoyskyi has only been surpassed in wealth by Rinat Akhmetov or/and Viktor Pinchuk.
Since 2010 rumors were circulating that Kolomoiskyi's assets were coming under pressure from the authorities. Kolomoiskyi controls his business empire from Switzerland.
Kolomyski has used Privat's "quasi-military forces" to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of "hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws" to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, and has used "a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics" to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in. Kolomyski was criticized by Mr Justice Mann in a court case in London involving an attempted hostile takeover of an oil company, with the judge stating that Kolomyski had "a reputation of having sought to take control of a company at gunpoint in Ukraine" and that there were "strong grounds for doubting the honesty of Mr Kolomoisky".
Kolomoyskyi and Ukrainian politics
Analysts have listed Kolomoyskyi as an ally of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko and her Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko. Although according to RIA Novosti (in January 2010), Kolomoysky relations with Tymoshenko "were soured some time ago, probably due to his refusal to finance Tymoshenko's election campaign" in 2010. Croatian newspaper Nacional claimed in September 2007 that Kolomoyskyi had become an ally of (then) Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko and had financed Yushchenko's Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc.
In the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election Kolomoyskyi was perceived as being one of UDAR’s main sponsors. This has been denied by UDAR.
On 2 March 2014, amidst the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov appointed Kolomoyskyi governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Two days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin described Kolomoyskyi as a "unique crook," and said that the citizens of Dnipropetrovsk were not happy with his appointment as Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. In contrast, The Daily Beast, a US publication, wrote in mid-June 2014 that Kolomoyskyi enjoyed the local population's strong support.
In April 2014 Kolomoyskyi offered a bounty for the capture of Russian-backed militants and incentives for the turning in of weapons. He also is believed to have spent $10 million to create the Dnipro Battalion, and also funds the Aidar, Azov, Dnepr 1, Dnepr 2, and Donbas volunteer battalions. Members of the Aidar Battalion “have been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions,” according to Amnesty International, while the Azov Battalion was seen flying flags carrying symbols of a Ukraine neo-Nazi party, Patriot of Ukraine.
Russia is asking for Kolomoyskyi to be put on Interpol's wanted list. On 2 July 2014 a Russian District Court authorized his arrest in absentia for "organizing the killing of civilians".
In March 2015, after the dismissal of Oleksandr Lazorko, who was a protege of Kolomoysky, as a chief executive of UkrTransNafta, Ukraine's state-owned oil pipeline operator, the Kolomoyskyi raided the UkrTransNafta's headquarters to expel the new government-appointed chief from the office.
Kolomoyski and Jewish politics
Kolomoyski is a prominent supporter of Ukraine's Jewish community and the president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine. In 2010 he was appointed as the president of the European Council of Jewish Communities after promising the outgoing president he would donate $14 million, with his appointment being described as a "putsch" and a "Soviet-style takeover" by other EJCJ board members. After several ECJC board members resigned in protest, Kolomyski quit the ECJC and, together with fellow Ukrainian oligarch Vadim Rabinovich, founded the European Jewish Union.