Banking of interest (not with interest) OdessaNovember 16, 2016
Much is written regarding the banking system in Ukraine. Normally relating to the on-going clean-up of the nefarious Ukrainian banking sector by the NBU, or relating to the alleged nefarious actions of the NBU itself.
It therefore catches the eye when a small provincial bank in Odessa is to be bought by an Austrian investment banker with a curriculum vitae that clearly infers connections within the elite strata of Vienna.
The bank in question is called Investbank which certainly does not have much high street recognition in Odessa despite being a bank of Odessa. Indeed, it is not a “high street bank”.
The Austrian purchaser, or at least soon to be majority shareholder, is Uwe Christian Eshner. The current owners being Alexander and Tamara Nezvinsky, Nick and Igor Teplitz, and Sergei Yablonsky.
Unsurprisingly, for a provincial bank with no high street recognition, in the national ranking by size of assets, the bank falls within the smallest 25%.
That it was available for purchase is not exactly a secret. Some years ago it could have been bought for $100 million or so. No doubt the purchase price will be substantially less considering the dramatic change of circumstances Ukraine has found itself subject to.
Clearly Mr Eshner is purchasing the majority share to own a fully licensed banking vehicle in Ukraine – though why Investbank when there are perhaps better deals to be struck with the NBU over insolvent licensed entities is perhaps a question some readers will ponder.
Austrian banks and bankers certainly have a “reputation” within Ukraine and among the Ukrainian elite and organised criminal class for being “helpful” when it comes to moving money out of Ukraine (and laundering it). Who among of the very elite of Yanukovych/”Family” did not have Austrian bank accounts and expensive property in Vienna?
Mr Eshner of course will not be unaware of such things. His Bloomberg profile boasts a history that began to “build up and develop extensive contacts
(Indeed, a reader may ponder whether the infamous Udo Proksch was in any way related to one of the favoured Yanukovych Austrian bankers Reinhard Proksch.)
As a healthy level of cynicism is a requirement for living in Odessa, there are some questions that arise that may be without foundation – or not.
Considering the amount of elite “Ukrainian interest” past and present in Austria, who if anybody is behind Mr Eshner?
By extension, whose money is buying this banking vehicle?
What is this banking vehicle to be used for by Mr Eshner?
Is it to become a front for “interests” behind a respectable face?
Is it a bank where transactions will now be, or should be placed on a “watch list” if not by the NBU, then by the international policemen and spooks?
Did this banking purchase raise the same raised (interested) eyebrow with international policemen and spooks as it did the blog?
Why are the blog flags raised over this when there is nothing prima facie untoward?