Vnesheconombank (VEB) urged Ukraine to enter into negotiations on the settlement of the situation with the seizure of shares of Prominvestbank (PIB) owned by him. The state corporation believes that Ukraine has violated the agreement with Russia on the protection of mutual investments, and counts on compensation. However, Ukraine is unlikely to voluntarily agree to compensate VEB for losses, and it is not enough to win a case in international arbitration, lawyers say.
At the disposal of Kommersant was VEB's letter of September 14 addressed to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv and Head of the National Bank of Ukraine Yakov Smoliy. In the letter, the state corporation points out that Ukraine violated the agreement with Russia on mutual protection of investments signed in 1998, and invites them to "immediately contact and enter into negotiations on a friendly settlement of the dispute."
The investment dispute within the framework of the 1998 agreement, according to VEB, arose from the fact that Ukraine since 2014 "commits acts that are internationally illegal". In particular, "nationalist-minded activists" only in 2017 conducted 43 actions against PIB branches and another 37 against ATMs. The shares, according to VEB, were organized by the state and led to "a critical deterioration in the economic state of the bank." The sanctions of Ukraine against the Russian state-owned banks led to the fact that the PIB was cut off from the securities market and could not transfer funds to the persons connected with it (for example, to return interbank loans received from VEB). From March 2017, Ukrainian state enterprises were forbidden to place funds in PIB.
In addition, the largest debtor of the bank - PJSC "Ukrainian Railways", which received loans for $ 153 million, is in arrears for more than three years. Since the founder of the borrower is the government of Ukraine, the situation, according to VEB, indicates that the state encourages the failure of the bank to repay loans.
The last straw was the arrest of PIB shares by the decision of the Kiev Arbitration Court. The Hague arbitration in May ruled on the suit of 19 companies against the Russian Federation, which may be connected with the former owner of Privatbank Igor Kolomoisky, awarding the plaintiffs about $ 130 million compensation for the loss of real estate in the Crimea. Last week, the Kyiv Court of Appeal, as part of the execution of this decision, arrested the shares of PIB, as well as Ukrainian subsidiaries of Sberbank and VTB (see "Kommersant" on September 13). In his letter, VEB calls this decision "illegal expropriation of investments", which is indirect. It did not lead to the deprivation of property, but "reduced to zero" the value of VEB's shares of PIB, which as of March 1, 2014 were worth $ 2.27 billion. Violations of the 1998 agreement include liability in the form of compensation for investor's costs and losses, as well as interest, warns VEB at the end of the letter.
Senior vice president, head of Vnesheconombank's legal directorate Igor Krasnov told Kommersant that the exact amount of compensation will be determined in the course of negotiations with Ukraine. If negotiations come to a deadlock, VEB will be able to apply to the Stockholm arbitration in six months. Whether Ukraine will go to negotiations, to learn from the addressee letters "b" failed. None of them answered the inquiries of Kommersant by the time of the issue.
The experts differed in their opinions as to how appropriate VEB's reference to the 1998 agreement was. Partner FMG Group Nikolay Kolenchuk considers it a logical step, since Ukraine appealed to this agreement in the dispute in The Hague, which Russia ignored. Plenipotentiary representative of the interests of the Russian Federation in the international association PraeLegal Alim Bishenov, on the contrary, considers the reference to this agreement unreasonable. "If we analyze all the circumstances of the incident, it becomes clear that there was no violation," Mr. Bishenov believes. "It's about applying sanctions, and statements about indirect expropriation are drawn." At the same time, experts agree that international authorities are unlikely to support VEB. "Ukraine has carried out blocking of assets in fulfillment of the adopted decision of the international court," adds Mr. Kolenchuk. "From this point of view, it is guided by international legislation.