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Ukraine opens embezzlement investigation at VAB Bank

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's office has launched criminal proceedings against the managers of collapsed PJSC Vseukra?nskyi Aks?onernyi Bank and its owner, Oleh Bakhmatiuk, and will investigate their alleged involvement in a large-scale embezzlement of funds from the lender.

The proceedings were launched at the request of the National Bank of Ukraine, the regulator said Dec. 12, adding that the case could mark the beginning of efforts by local law enforcement authorities to take a tougher stance against the owners and top managers of failed banks, in line with the country's 2015 law stipulating penalties for bringing financial institutions into insolvency.

Bakhmatiuk denied the embezzlement accusations, saying it is a PR stunt arranged by the central bank's head Valeriya Gontareva, whose aim is to liquidate Ukrlandfarming, a London Stock Exchange-listed agricultural holding controlled by the businessman, Interfax Ukraine said Dec. 13.

Bakhmatiuk noted that earlier investigations of criminal cases linked to VAB did not find any evidence of his guilt.