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Ukrainian tycoon suspected of organising contract hit

Ukraine agriculture minister held for alleged corruption
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Ukrainian media reported Wednesday that billionaire businessman Igor Kolomoisky, who is already detained on fraud charges, is now suspected of organising a contract killing.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement that a “well-known businessman” has been informed that he is suspected of “committing another crime related to the organisation of a contract killing”.

Prosecutors blurred the face of the suspect but Ukrainian media named him as Igor Kolomoisky, 61, one of the country’s richest people and a former supporter of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky has long-standing links to Kolomoisky, whose media empire aired his show “Servant of the People” and backed his presidential campaign.

Since Russia invaded in 2022, Zelensky has vowed to fight corruption and Kolomoisky was detained in September on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

Describing the latest accusation, prosecutors said “the suspect, acting on motives of personal revenge, ordered the murder of the director of a law firm” for not fulfilling an order to invalidate the decisions of a company’s shareholders.

Prosecutors said the suspect hired “members of a gang that ‘specialised’ in committing serious and especially serious crimes, including physical violence against competitors”.

The gang “attacked the director of a law firm, punching and stabbing him in the vital organs”, prosecutors said, but did not kill him “for reasons beyond the control of the gang members.”

Ukrainian police separately released a statement saying the assault took place in 2003 in the town of Feodosia on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The United States in 2021 banned Kolomoisky and his family from entry, with the State Department saying that as a governor of the eastern Dnipro region between 2014 and 2015 he was involved in “significant corruption”.

Kolomoisky is the former owner of Ukraine’s largest private bank, Privatbank, which was nationalised after he was accused of syphoning off billions of dollars.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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