London Law Firm Tasked to Find "$200m Misappropriated by Tymoshenko and Lazarenko"

Nov 08, 2013, 03:00 ET from Ukraine Monitor

LONDON, November 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The Government of Ukraine has hired a leading London law firm to recover more than $200 million, allegedly "misappropriated by persons including the two former Ukrainian Prime Ministers, Yulia Tymoshenko and Pavlo Lazarenko".

The firm is Lawrence Graham, globally respected experts in asset recovery, which has been tasked with finding money that disappeared during the mid-1990s when Tymoshenko ran United Energy Systems - a company that had a gas monopoly - and Lazarenko was the Prime Minister who awarded her that monopoly.

"The unlawful actions of the individuals involved in the alleged misappropriation have already been in the past the subject of criminal investigations or proceedings in the USA, Switzerland and Ukraine," Lawrence Graham said in a statement.

Lazarenko was released from a California prison last year, having served nine years for money laundering relating to that time period. Tymoshenko was separately jailed in 2011 for abuse of office for illegally signing a $10 billion gas deal with Russia during her time as Prime Minister. This latest investigation complicates efforts to have her pardoned in time for the European Union Summit in Vilnius in late November, where the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine is scheduled to be signed.

"We are pleased to have been instructed in this important case and we believe that our network of fraud and asset recovery lawyers around the world enables us to bring the right expertise together for an assignment of this nature," said Lawrence Graham's Head of Fraud and Asset Recovery Andrew Witts.

Among the assets under investigation will be the $6.75 million California mansion purchased by Lazarenko in the 1990s. It lies in the hills outside San Francisco and was once used by the actor Eddie Murphy. It has since been seized by U.S. authorities.

Lazarenko, who was once named by Transparency International as one of the world's ten most corrupt leaders, is expected to be deported from the United States by the end of the year but is unlikely to return to Ukraine.

Along with Tymoshenko he is also being investigated over the political assassination of Opposition MP Yevhen Shcherban, who had been an outspoken critic of corruption and financial wrongdoing in the 1990s. Shcherban was gunned down by professional hitmen at Donetsk Airport in 1996.

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor