LONDON (Reuters) – PrivatBank won an appeal in a lawsuit that allows Ukraine’s largest lender to pursue claims against its former owners in a London court, the bank said on Tuesday.
A worldwide asset freeze on the former owners’ assets will remain in place while the case is heard, PrivatBank said.
PrivatBank’s case against former owners Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov alleges fraud that it says cost the bank hundreds of millions of dollars.
The former owners deny any wrongdoing.
Kolomoisky did not immediately reply to a request for comment by phone.
The case is part of a protracted legal battle between the Ukrainian government and the former owners after PrivatBank was forcibly nationalised in December 2016 as part of a clean-up of the country’s banking system.
Ukraine’s dealings with PrivatBank and Kolomoisky, who has longstanding business ties to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, are being watched by investors as a barometer of the country’s business climate.
“The three Lord Justices of Appeal concluded that ‘the Bank has a good arguable case to recover the full U.S. $1.9 billion (1.50 billion pounds) [US$3 billion including interest] given in the particulars of claim,’ and that the worldwide freezing order should remain in place,” PrivatBank said in a statement.
The court refused to give the defendants permission to appeal, and required them to file their defence by the end of November, it said.
Ukraine’s dollar-denominated sovereign bonds moved higher in thin trade, with the 2032 issue <US903724BM37=TE> adding 0.4 cents to reach a 2-1/2 week high at 102.73 cents.
(Reporting by Tom Arnold and Karin Strohecker in London and Natalia Zinets in Kiev; writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)