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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ukrainian Oligarch Who Amassed Downtown Cleveland Real Estate with Laundered Funds is Under Investigation

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2020 at 6:53 PM

click to enlarge Three of the Optima Ventures current and former properties: Crowne Plaza Hotel, AECOM Building, One Cleveland Center - "IMG_2485"BY JEFFPYLE IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • "IMG_2485"by jeffpyle is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • Three of the Optima Ventures current and former properties: Crowne Plaza Hotel, AECOM Building, One Cleveland Center
BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday that Igor Kolomoisky, the Ukrainian oligarch who became the largest owner of commercial real estate in downtown Cleveland using allegedly laundered funds, is now under investigation by U.S. authorities.

A Federal grand jury in Cleveland, the FBI and an international money laundering and kleptocracy team from the Justice Department are all working to piece together the elaborate financial puzzle of which Kolomoisky was the center.

The investigation, reports BuzzFeed, "represents a rare effort by the US justice system to target an influential oligarch and trace the millions that he and his associates allegedly sent through US correspondent banks." The investigation has been ongoing fore more than a year, and a U.S. team has made at least one fact-finding mission to Ukraine, having received assistance from authorities there.

As detailed in a lawsuit filed in Delaware last year. Kolomoisky and his partner, Gennadiy Bogolyubovv, allegedly used a Ukrainian bank they founded in 2006 as a "personal piggy bank." They allegedly created a complex network of shell companies to launder funds and acquire millions of square feet of U.S. real estate, including the Cleveland portfolio, while enriching themselves and their associates. Kolomoisky has denied the substance of that lawsuit.

Scene reported on the alleged financial crimes, dubbed the "Optima Schemes," last summer. But Kolomoisky made national headlines more recently during the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

As BuzzFeed reported in July, 2019, two "unofficial operatives" reporting to Trump's personal lawyer met with Kolomoisky in an attempt to set up a meeting between Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskey, ostensibly to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Kolomoisky reportedly refused.

The relationship and looming tension between the Ukrainian President and Kolomoisky is at the center of Wednesday's reporting.

Zelenskey and Ukraine's prosecutor "could face a difficult decision," BuzzFeed writes, "as to whether they would stand in the way in case of an indictment or allow the process to unfold."

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