Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grabbing chairs in Oshchadbank's boardroom

Last August, after almost endless squabbling, the VR anti-crisis coalition was finally formed. Yushchenko proposed Yanukovych's candidature for PM and it was quickly approved the VR.

The day Yanukovych was voted into office, events took place that in the words of 'Lvivska Hazeta' were reminiscent of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution when the order was: "Seize the banks, telegraph offices, and bridges!" An attempt was made in the VR to indecently rush through and appoint new faces, mostly from PoR's top echelons, to the National Bank of Ukraine's supervisory council, even before the Cabinet of Ministers [KabMin] was ratified. Similar propositions on the appointment of new people to the supervisory council of State Savings Bank of Ukraine [Oshchad bank], and Ukr-Ex-Im-Bank, were similarly forced to a vote. All these proposals, however, failed to garner the necessary number of votes, and fell through.

In recent days there have been determined attempts, led by deputy PM Andriy Klyuyev and his associates, to take control of Oshchad bank again.

The bank's supervisory council comprises 5 presidential appointees, 5 KabMin appointees and 5 VR appointees. Recently the KabMin resolved to appoint its 5 candidates, but the president stopped this and turned to the Consititutional court for support because two of the KabMin's candidates already have highly-placed positions in government - combining these with seats on the Oshchadbank's supervisory council is not allowed by the constitution.

The KabMin decided not to wait any longer for the court's decision, and on the 14th March renewed their list of names.

On Friday, Oshchad bank's supervisory council were scheduled to meet, but only 9 council members turned up, one short of a quorum. [I assume that 5 of the absentees were president's men.]

The most significant matter on the agenda was to be the appointment of a new supervisory council chairman which would result in a de-facto hand-over of control of the bank to the KabMin. The chairman of the bank board was to be replaced also.

Donetsk politicial old-hand and now vice-premier Volodymyr Rybak led the KabMin's delegation. The supervisory council is currently chaired by leading Orange Revolution organizer and former presidential admin. chief of staff, Oleh Rybachuk , who claims the bank is well run and no changes are necessary.

Yuliya Tymoshenko had ordered her man not to attend the meeting, but he disobeyed her because "he cannot refuse the Klyuyev brothers' urgings to change the bank's management, as his and his family's future hangs on this." Allegedly his family had been threatened. In the event it was a Socialist who went missing having been 'taken ill'. The chairman of the bank reported sick too. According to Ukrainian law, persons on sick-leave cannot be sacked until they return back fit to work, a 'wheeze' pulled by many pro-PoR officials immediately after the O.R.

To prevent the 'attack' on their bank and to 'play for time' its administration called in sanitary inspectors and rodent exterminators to lay down rat poison in order to close down the building on that day, but to no avail. A postponed meeting is to take place next Monday.

LEvko says this affair is a minor example of the battles currently being fought between the president, government, and opposition. But why should the president have 1/3 of the seats in the bank supervisory council? Same goes for the Kabmin. Maybe it would be better to have supervisory council members chosen on a 50-50 basis between ruling coalition and parliament. But then the pres. wouldn't buy that would he? 'Nobody trusts nobody no more'.

As I have said before, PoR's urgency to grasp control of Oshchad bank reminds me of the old joke, when a crook was asked by a court judge, 'Why do you rob banks?" he replied, "You are so stupid for a judge.. it's because that's where the money is of course."

Note: "Oschadbank is State-owned and headquartered in Kiev, Ukraine. The successor of “Soviet State Savings Bank of Ukraine” JSC State Savings Bank of Ukraine was registered by the National Bank of Ukraine on 31 December 1991. Oschadbank gained its present status of an open joint-stock company in 1999. The General License of Oschadbank allows it to operate a universal commercial bank in every segment of the financial market, providing its customers with the full range of banking services. The State through the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine owns 100 per cent of Oschadbank’s shares. The bank traditionally specialises in serving individuals (households) throughout its extensive branch network." [From the bank's website.]


Anonymous said...

The following is a clipped comment from a poster to the BBC UA forum in response to a write up covering Tymoshenko's visit to Washington ----- and I post it here because the words perfectly express my own thoughts and reflections

"Розкол помаранчевоі команди був спровокований Юлею. Юля - руйнівна конфліктна особа, що страшно для людини в керівництві. Ій абсолютно байдужа Украіна - просто вона опинилася в Украйні і хоче керувати. А чи зачарований Вашингтон тіею багнюкою, що Юля виливає на опонентів.чи зачарований він тією обізнаністю, що приводить до критики на кшалт цитую вислов Юлі)" головною помилкою уряду є сам уряд". Юля Григян впевнена брехуха - вона дивиться вам в очі і впевнено бреше так, що розумні люди ніяковіють, а не дуже починають вірити, бо хіба ж можна так впевнено брехати - так можна. Згадайте голосування Юлі за відставку уряду Єханурова, згадайте нещодовне голосування за закон про кабінет міністрів - закон, що надає найбільші повноваження тому самому уряду януковича, який Юля назвала найбільшою помилкою. Хорони Боже Украіну від ціеї особи.

LEvko said...

Thanks for the comment. There are no angels in Ukrainian politics. At the moment the anti-crisis coalition are firmly in control because they are maintaining a discipline that the orange forces failed to sustain. To put all of the blame for this on Yuliya alone is just too simple. The principal reason Tymoshenko was sacked was because head of SBU and Tymoshenko's closest confidant Turchynov was making a nuisance of himself investigating massive frauds involving RosUkrEnergo - [and making things uncomfortable for pres.]

After last year's VR elections, NSNU should have quickly decided to play second fiddle to PoR or play second fiddle to BYuT in the formation of a government. In the event they fell between two stools and will pay a heavy price for this.

PoR made NSNU a very generous offer - Yekhanurov would have been PM in a PoR-NSNU government. The president' first-choice ministers on his list would have remained in cabinet too.

The early elections that BYuT and NSNU are now striving for would not necessarily serve Ukraine well at the moment, but personally I get the feeling that the battle between the administration and president is hotting up..who knows where this will lead.

Anonymous said...

Was the PoR deal really so generous? or just a carrot? As they have shown, just because PoR promises a post to so-and-so does not mean the person will stay in the position. (this tactic yes, they learned from the Pres. where he promised Yulia the PM spot which he gave her, but he did not permanently keep her there.)So really was it that good of a deal?

As well as playing second fiddle to Yulia - no , they could not accept that (for whatever reasons were) - should they have knuckled under her? yes, I think so but they thought they could talk their way to a compromise. Ha!

My prediction is as follows - BYuT and NSNU will be combined into one party by one single voting block as early elections will occur which will result in basicly a two party system - BYuT and PoR and as neither will have a clear majority in Rada nor a "mandate from the people" it will get the closest it has ever been to civil war/secession (esp. Crimea). And as the break away would be supported by Russian Fed. it could mean the break up of the country into two.

And yes, I can put the blame on Yulia
a) she deserved to be fired as PM her policies closely resemble the policies of PoR today (grain quotas, etc.) Aslund correctly criticized her on this and has been villified ever since.
b)also she wanted to be fired as it would allow her to be in opposition and have separate electoral lists from NSNU in March parliamentary elections. Who announced to the press a "deal" which by no means could be stomached by NSNU?
c) her actions have resulted in more power and greater influence for PoR and that is undeniable. So what kind of an "opposition" is she?