A team of Ukraine's ex-PM and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko say they believe that "fictitious firms" have been depositing money with nationalised PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest lender, with the aim of buying votes in favour of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko.
"It's turned out in the past several days — I think this is going to be another bomb to explode in the country — that it's precisely through branches of PrivatBank, which was once privatised and then nationalised, that Poroshenko and his team have imported hundreds of millions of hryvnias in order to bribe voters," Interfax news agency quoted Serhiy Sobolev, a lawmaker from Tymoshenko's parliamentary faction, as saying on March 18.
Sobolev added that "all kinds of data concerning a number of regions are available. The names of fictitious firms through which all of this is being imported have been uncovered.” "Why is this being done? Come to any of Poroshenko's campaign tents. No campaigning. Nothing except personal data they are collecting and the distribution of money to millions of our fellow countrymen," Sobolev said.
Meanwhile, on March 13, the national police said that there are 142 ongoing criminal inquiries relating to the electoral process: 63 into the violation of electoral rights and 48 into voter bribing. 13 cases have led to the indictment of 22 people.
Last week, head of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko parliamentary faction Artur Herasymov accused Tymoshenko of "political and financial" agreements with controversial Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.
On March 12, Herasymov presented to the nation's parliament an audio recording of the alleged phone talk between Tymoshenko and the oligarch, in which ex-PM said she appreciated Kolomoisky as "a business partner".
"This record has nothing new for us. It shows what we already know. Kolomoisky has two candidates in the elections: [comic and presidential candidate Volodymyr] Zelenskiy and Tymoshenko," the Ukrainska Pravda online outlet quoted him as saying.
Herasymov added that his faction demands "public information about the political and financial aspects of your [Tymoshenko’s] agreements with Kolomoisky".
According to the latest polls, Tymoshenko has recovered her second-place ranking in the presidential race, ahead of Poroshenko, although her lead is inside the poll’s margin of error. The Rating sociological service reported on March 11 that among decided voters, 24.7% will cast their ballot for Zelenskiy, 18.3% for Tymoshenko and 16.8% for Poroshenko.
The government nationalised PrivatBank, co-owned by Kolomoisky, in December 2016 after it failed to fulfil a three-year recapitalisation plan.
The bank was found to allegedly have a UAH148bn ($5.6bn) hole in its balance sheet because of related-party financing. In 2017, the then central bank governor Valeriya Gontareva said the post-nationalisation audit of the bank found that 100% of the corporate portfolio had been made to related parties.