Ukrainian tycoon arrested in French ski resort in bank probe

Dec 27, 2022, 3:59 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2022, 6:04 am

PARIS (AP) — A Ukrainian businessman and former lawmaker suspected of embezzling more than $100 million has been arrested at a high-end ski resort in the French Alps, according to Ukrainian authorities.

French police arrested Kostiantyn Zhevago in a hotel in Courchevel on Tuesday based on an international warrant, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations said in a statement. It said Zhevago had a court appearance in Chambery scheduled Wednesday as a first step toward eventual extradition.

The Chambery prosecutor’s office confirmed the arrest, and said he would appear in court Wednesday or Thursday for the first stage in the extradition request process. The prosecutor’s office is awaiting documents from Ukraine supporting the extradition demand, and would not comment further on the case.

Zhevago was the principal beneficiary of Ukraine’s now-defunct Finance & Credit Bank and the former chief executive of mining company Ferrexpo, which is among the world’s top exporters of iron ore pellets and had an operating base is in central Ukraine.

Zhevago served in the Ukrainian parliament from 1998 to 2019, primarily as an independent.

In 2019, Ukrainian authorities launched a criminal case accusing him and other top managers of Finance & Credit Bank of jointly embezzling over $100 million from the bank. The investigations bureau said their alleged scheme harmed “the interests of the state and the bank’s depositors.”

Ukraine issued an arrest warrant for Zhevago in 2019, with an international warrant following in 2021. Zhevago’s properties, companies linked to him and other assets in Ukraine were seized.

The arrest was announced as France’s defense minister visited Ukraine to show French military support for Ukrainian forces. His office said the arrest had no link to the visit, the first by a French defense chief since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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