Open Letter by Oleg Bakhmatуuk to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

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Dear Vladimir Alexandrovich,

I appeal to you as I feel the situation has been locked up.

I appeal to you on behalf of a company employing 27 thousand people, one that has over the past 5 years been trying to work in this country, despite all the events and losses that we have sustained in the Eastern Ukraine from loss of manufacturing facilities to the massive inflation hit. I appeal to you in the name of a company responsible for 1% GDP while contributing yearly UAH 3 billion in taxes and paying UAH 3.5 billion in salaries.

I appeal to you because once again we find ourselves in a situation where we are absolutely helpless and defenceless against actions of the state law enforcement authorities. The Prosecutor General’s Office or the newly appointed Prosecutor jointly with the known director of NABU have once again reactivated the case against the VAB Bank. The case, which has been previously scrutinized by all state law enforcement agencies: the National Police of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General’s Office. A large number of forensic examinations, investigative procedures and searches have been conducted. The company has been  exposed to massive challenges over the past 5 years while we have been seeking to have a constructive dialogue. We have been offering to enter negotiations aiming to protect the company, which has a great impact on our economy. We offer an honest and open exchange about the situation with the banks. We insist on transparency and offer a constructive dialogue, which is also in the sense of Your approach. But it appears that NABU and the Prosecutor are following a social trend. In the pursuit of hype they are overruling the Law to appoint a next victim.

We have been surprised by the little to no acceptance of our constructive proposals.

We came up with an offer to the Deposit Guarantee Fund to repay UAH 8 billion of debts of our banks. No other owner of a liquidated or insolvent bank came out with a similar proposal. The latest official announcement of our proposal  is dated 27th of October, but yesterday (just 2 weeks later) investigation activities were restarted: our employees were searched at their homes and some of them were arrested on charges, which were repeatedly dismissed before. NABU has effectively taken it upon itself to appoint people guilty rather than conduct proper investigations. Furthermore, the NABU Director has a direct conflict of interest vis-à-vis our company. 

We do not understand why the only replay to our constructive proposal to appoint international auditors, which we made to the Deposit GuaranteeFund and the Chief of the Presidential Office, was that to destroy is better than to preserve. That to get nothing instead of budget revenues is much better. The Law is violated and we do not have the smallest chance to defend ourselves. Because we have been already appointed “guilty”. In our society, a person named «oligarch’ is assumed to be guilty a priori and must, therefore, be punished, only because Mr. Ryaboshapka or Sytnik labeled him. We believe this position to be erroneous, unfair and unreasonable. A reopening of the criminal cases is in violation with a number of Ukrainian laws and with the international standards. The case into those episodes has been dismissed 5 times! This would have been inconceivable in any other country. Such actions are opening a Box of Pandora. The negative impact will land on You and Your Governments shoulders, as the preservation of businesses is amongst the highest priorities declared by You and Your Government.

We are kindly asking for Your personally involvement. 

This to stop the practice of appointing individuals guilty without a right for defense. We ask you kindly to appoint negotiators for a constructive dialogue. We are open to cooperate with any international restructuring advisors and auditors. Our company has raised USD 2 billion funds and created in Ukraine assets with the value exceeding USD 2.5 billion. Those include two world’s largest poultry factories, Europe’s largest grain elevators cap

able storing a crop harvested from nearly 3 million hectares of land, USD 600 million worth of agricultural machinery, hatcheries, seed plants and a farming machines servicing infrastructure. Those are assets supporting economic well-being and providing social safety nets of our State. 

It’s hard for us to go against brute force. Against people who do not wish to listen to us. For whom to negotiate means to pursue own ambitions. 

I ask you to intervene in this matter. I do not speculate on working people. Let me reiterate, whatever is ruined is then hard to restore. You know this as a person who has created a lot in your life. I call on you to protect the business which is committed to repay debts to the government and is continuing to pay taxes to the state budget. The company is like a body. When dismembered, its value is so much less than the whole live organism.  I have not appealed to you before, but I’ve now been forced to do so because the situation is collapsing and the communication you receive might be selective.

We reserve the right to continue the defense and employ international lawyers. We will prove our right in international courts and those people who are now issuing unlawful decisions will have to deal with the consequences. But we understand the wisdom, that only the weapons sellers benefit from wars. People who are destroying what they did not created will either step aside or face prosecution but that will no longer matter. I urge you to prevent law enforcement agencies from destroying our company, don’t let them take our business hostage. We are ready to engage in constructive dialogue. And we are prepared to prove in great detail that our legitimate rights have been violated repeatedly and that we have been deprived of our right to be heard.

Dozens of actions against us would be seen completely unacceptable in a European society.The law is a victim of circumstances. I’m thankful to you and I’m committed to seeking a deal that would enable the company to continue operations to secure maximum remuneration  for the Deposit Guarantee Fund and the National Bank of Ukraine, to enable us to focus on creating value rather than fighting economic jackals, questionable incentivized  detectives, prosecutors, and judges which are destroying the company.   

Mr. President, I highly encourage  you to simply communicate to your subordinates: go back to law and basic logic, sit down at the negotiating table, work out a solution which would be beneficial for the state, which would contribute to the budget of the country and preserve 27 thousand jobs. All we’ve been asking for over the past two years is just that. this is all we are asking for the last 2 years. We just hope, that your voice will be heard.