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09KYIV1760, TYMOSHENKO’S NBU DISPUTES DEEPEN

October 13, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV1760 2009-10-13 13:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0015
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #1760/01 2861321
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131321Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8568
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 001760 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR, EUR/UMB, EEB/OMA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2019 
TAGS: EFIN EREL ETRD PGOV PREL UP XH
SUBJECT: TYMOSHENKO'S NBU DISPUTES DEEPEN 
 
REF: KYIV 1557 
 
Classified By: Acting Economic Counselor Kaye Lee for Reasons 1.4 (b) a 
nd (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary.  A dispute between the National Bank of 
Ukraine (NBU) and Prime Minister Tymoshenko's government has 
escalated in recent days.  At stake is the future of a major 
Ukrainian bank under temporary administration as well as the 
potential for additional capital infusions into two smaller 
banks that were recently nationalized by the GOU.  The 
tension has spilled over from the banking sector to fiscal 
policy, with the NBU suggesting it may refuse to monetize GOU 
treasury bills which are expected to be issued to finance 
Ukraine's 2009 fiscal deficit and Naftohaz payments to 
Gazprom.  End summary. 
 
NBU-GOU DISPUTE OVER NADRA 
-------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) Acrimony between NBU officials and the GOU, recently 
flaring into the public domain when Minister of Interior 
Lutsenko launched an investigation of NBU Deputy Governor 
Shapovalov (reftel), has been evident in negotiations over 
the future of Nadra bank, Ukraine's largest private domestic 
bank under temporary government administration.  It is widely 
expected that the government will recapitalize Nadra, though 
the bank's fate may rest on finding a compromise among 
Ukraine's authorities. 
 
3.  (C) Nadra vice president Nikolay Onishchenko acknowledged 
to econoff that the fate of Nadra was still unclear, even 
though Tymoshenko had given bank officials an end-November 
deadline to complete restructuring talks.  Nadra officials 
told us that the bank had chosen UBS to serve as a lead 
dealer on its $175 million Eurobond restructure, and that it 
was making progress on finalizing terms with export credit 
agencies (including U.S. Export-Import Bank and the 
Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation, 
whose representatives were in Kyiv in recent weeks for 
negotiations with Nadra).  Nadra's biggest concerns were with 
major trade finance creditors.  The inability of Nadra's 
temporary administrator to quickly establish a plan to 
restructure trade finance debt, including $125 million owed 
to Cargill, had apparently exacerbated the rift between 
Tymoshenko and the NBU (which appointed and supports the 
temporary administrator). 
 
4.  (C) Cargill Trade and Structured Finance representative 
Ross Jennings (protect throughout) told us that NBU governor 
Stelmakh had backed out of a verbal agreement with 
Tymoshenko, made in the presence of Cargill negotiators in 
July, to relieve Nadra's temporary administrator Valentina 
Zhukovska of her duties.  According to Jennings, Zhukovska 
had been seen as an impediment to a restructuring deal, 
perhaps acting on the behest of President Yushchenko, for 
whom her son, Roman Zhukovskyi, works as a senior economic 
advisor.  (Note: For his part, Zhukovskyi recently admitted 
to us that he had been familiar with the Nadra situation, as 
it had "required the attention of the President."  End note.) 
 
 
5.  (C) Cargill speculated that the President had advised 
both Stelmakh and Zhukovska to block a deal on Nadra's 
restructuring, and had supported Zhukovska's decision to stay 
on at the bank in order to accomplish that goal.  Absent 
enough resources in Ukraine's thinly stretched Deposit 
Insurance Fund, Tymoshenko would be forced to cope with the 
political fallout from thousands of disgruntled depositors in 
the event of Nadra's liquidation.  Zhukovska herself cagily 
told us that she had been agnostic about staying on at Nadra, 
and had proposed Tymoshenko advisor and Ministry of Finance 
director for bank recapitalization, Timur Bagirov, as a 
possible replacement, but that Bagirov had refused the 
position. 
 
6.  (C) Concerned it was caught up in the midst of bickering 
between the Tymoshenko government and Yushchenko allies, 
Cargill had backed away from the restructure negotiations. 
Jennings told us that Cargill also had been frustrated with 
the "procedure-oriented" demands of fellow trade finance 
creditors, such as Standard Bank and Kommerzbank, whose 
requirements for a second audit by Ernst and Young had 
further delayed the restructuring process.  Cargill told us, 
however, that it had reengaged Ukrainian authorities with a 
recently drafted letter, on behalf of the trade finance 
creditor committee, that outlined general terms for a 
restructuring deal, but that it had not received a response. 
Bagirov, in turn, told us that the Ministry of Finance had 
received the Cargill letter and was open to the parameters 
outlined by Cargill and the other creditors, but that the GOU 
could not "force" the NBU and Nadra's Zhukovska to the table. 
 He confirmed that Cargill had made overtures and expressed a 
willingness to talk again with Ukrainian authorities.  (Note: 
During recent meetings with senior NBU man
agers, we were told 
that the NBU was attempting to "stay out" of politics, though 
the NBU had been "under constant pressure" from the GOU.  End 
comment.) 
 
7.  (SBU) Separately, a prominent Kyiv daily revealed on 
October 13 that Nadra had published the full list of its 
42,000 borrowers who collectively owe UAH 8.5 billion (nearly 
$1 billion), including corporate, small and medium 
enterprise, and private household clients.  Although a 
technical violation of bank secrecy laws, this move may have 
been verbally ordered by Yushchenko in an effort to shed 
light on Nadra's defaulted debtors.  Nonetheless, explicit 
permission for such a general disclosure was not allowed for 
in the President's October 8 decree (number 813), which had 
focused more narrowly on delinquent borrowers. 
 
"UKRPROMBANK IS DEAD" 
--------------------- 
 
8.  (C) Bagirov acknowledged that Ukrprombank, a second major 
domestic bank under temporary administration, was "dead" and 
would not be made viable.  The Ministry of Finance would 
uphold a decision by the state recapitalization board and the 
Cabinet of Ministers to liquidate Ukrprombank's remaining 
assets.  Bagirov said Ukrprombank had not been operational 
for 6-8 months, that 60% of its assets had been "tied up in a 
nasty legal dispute" the GOU "didn't want to touch," and that 
the impact of its liquidation on the Ukrainian financial 
system had already been factored in by the markets. 
 
9.  (C) A NBU-led purchase and assumption agreement would 
allow for the transfer of a portion of Ukrprombank's assets 
and deposits to newly nationalized Rodovid Bank, whose 
temporary administrator was given a short-term extension to 
oversee the deal.  This plan, first articulated nearly five 
weeks ago, is yet to be implemented, though Bagirov has told 
us that UAH 6.9 billion in deposits would soon be transferred 
to Rodovid, with another UAH 2.8 billion allocated to repay 
the NBU for refinancing funds. 
 
ANOTHER INJECTION FOR RODOVID 
----------------------------- 
 
10.  (C) Rodovid Bank, one of three domestic banks recently 
recapitalized by the GOU (to the tune of UAH 2.8 billion or 
roughly $330 million), announced publicly that it required 
"top off" funds of UAH 1 billion to pay for unexpected 
deteriorations in its loan portfolio.  However, Rodovid's 
temporary administrator, Sergiy Scherbyna, told us that the 
figure needed from the GOU was even greater.  Scherbyna said 
Rodovid had a gap of over UAH 1.5 billion, though he noted 
that the bank would not request a capital injection if it 
received Ukrprombank's UAH 2.5 billion in performing loans, 
plus enough Ministry of Finance treasury bills (monetized by 
the central bank) to offset the transfer of Ukrprombank's UAH 
7 billion in liabilities.  In addition to assuming a portion 
of Ukrprombank's assets and liabilities, Rodovid was also 
planning to hire Ukrprombank personnel and rebrand its retail 
operations.  (Note: Bagirov said separately that 
Ukrprombank's UAH 2.5 billion in sound assets constituted 25% 
of its total assets.  End note.) 
 
11.  (C) Bagirov also told us that Rodovid had "unresolved 
provisions," and that the Ministry of Finance would increase 
its capital if Rodovid's management came to the conclusion 
that its gap was substantial.  He praised Rodovid for its 
relatively strong information technology capacity, especially 
compared to the Ukrainian state-owned Oshchadbank, where the 
Ministry had initially planned to transfer Ukrprombank's 
assets and liabilities.  Bagirov told us that there was "no 
desire" within Oshchadbank's management to take on another 
thorny state obligation and that Rodovid had been the only 
viable solution for Ukrprombank's liquidation.  Later, Post 
learned that Platinum Bank had also bid to take over 
Ukrprombank's assets, but that its offer had come too late in 
the resolution process to be considered. 
12.  (C) Scherbyna said Rodovid analysts had calculated the 
bank would have to retain at least 50% of its deposit base 
for the projected UAH 1.5 billion recapitalization need to 
remain constant.  However, he cautioned that if outflows were 
greater than expected, Rodovid would not be able to pay back 
all deposits "on first notice."  Within Rodovid's UAH 6.4 
billion loan portfolio, over 30% of the bank's credits were 
more than three months overdue, according to Scherbyna. 
While only 5% of its loans had been made in foreign currency, 
and all credits had been collateralized, Rodovid complained 
there was "no market" for premium assets, such as land plots 
in Kyiv, which had been collected as collateral for defaults. 
 
 
13.  (C) Rodovid has roughly $30-31 million in external debt 
that it is currently restructuring, roughly 10% of which had 
been owed to U.S.-based CoBank via a trade credit facility 
guaranteed by USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). 
Rodovid and CCC had reached preliminary terms on a 
restructure agreement, pending final review by each side's 
legal counsel. 
 
STATUS OF OTHER NATIONALIZED BANKS 
---------------------------------- 
 
14.  (C) NBU crisis management director Yuriy Petrov 
explained to us that Ukrgasbank and Kyiv Bank had been taken 
out of temporary administration because both banks had 
established competent executive management teams and 
supervisory boards and were healthy enough to reinitiate 
commercial operations. 
 
15.  (C) Nonetheless, press reports have indicated that Kyiv 
Bank would need an additional UAH 1.5 billion in capital to 
compensate for the poor quality of its loan stock.  It was 
rumored that Kyiv Bank had been stripped of its remaining 
assets, to the point that Bagirov had characterized the bank 
in August 2009 as a "shell" that should not have qualified 
for state recapitalization funds.  When we recently asked 
Bagirov about the NBU's rosy picture of Kyiv Bank, as well as 
the Ministry's willingness to put additional funds into the 
institution, he stated that while the bank remained in poor 
condition, the recapitalization board was unlikely to approve 
a further injection. 
 
NBU RELUCTANT TO MONETIZE 
------------------------- 
 
16.  (C) NBU director of economic forecasting Oleksandr 
Petryk told us that the investigation into NBU deputy 
Shapovalov (reftel) had undermined public confidence in the 
NBU.  He said that politicians were toying with the banking 
regulator like a "marionette" to force it into monetizing the 
budget deficit and to wrest control of the NBU governorship. 
These games would intensify through mid-December, when NBU 
governor Volodymyr Stelmakh is set to retire.  Petryk blamed 
a lack of information sharing between the NBU and the 
Ministry of Finance for large discrepancies in budget 
macroeconomic indicators, and he puzzled over how the GOU 
could get away from owning up to its massive core fisca
l 
deficit. 
 
17.  (SBU) Commentators have noted that the NBU has refused 
to buy government treasury bills.  Excepting NBU purchases of 
bonds for bank recapitalization, a commitment enshrined in 
Ukraine's anti-crisis legislation, the central bank may be 
actively refusing to conspire in the GOU's attempts to 
finance budgetary or extra-budgetary items, such as the UAH 
9.8 billion payment for Euro 2012 infrastructure development 
(reftel).  Furthermore, a back-of-the-envelope calculation 
shows that the NBU has not openly financed Naftohaz's monthly 
payments to Gazprom since May.  PM Tymoshenko stated that the 
state energy company met August commitments after it received 
a windfall in VAT refunds, while its September payment may 
have come via treasury bills purchased by the state-owned 
Oshchadbank or from a recent $500 million loan Naftohaz 
allegedly took from Russian-owned Prominvestbank. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
18.  (C) The inability of the government and the NBU to work 
together, another symptom of the rivalry between the Prime 
Minister and the President, is negatively impacting Ukraine's 
capacity to work through its banking sector problems.  And 
while the IMF supports the NBU's refusal to monetize the 
budget deficit and Euro 2012 payments, it seems clear that 
this "independence" is motivated by political factors, rather 
than being a sign of an autonomously functioning central 
bank.  For her part, PM Tymoshenko appears to view the NBU as 
standing in the way, keeping her from realizing public 
promises to protect depositors and meet budget targets.  With 
an unfinanced fiscal deficit and the presidential election 
fast approaching, we would not be surprised if Tymoshenko 
sought to gain control of the NBU after Stelmakh's 
retirement. 
PETTIT

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