Former Central Bank of Ukraine Governor struck by a car: accident or threat?

Central Bank of Ukraine (called National Bank) and its officials have been under pressure both from government and private sector. The central bank forced nationalisation of PrivatBank, a private bank owned by an oligarch. The oligarch threatened the nationalisation in court which went in his favour. The Governor who forced nationalisation was Valeria Gontareva and she was given death threats etc back then as well.

However, it seems problems continue.

The former Governor is currently a Prof at LSE was recently struck by a car in London. Her friends smell something fishy about it:

Valeria Gontareva, the former head of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), says she has been hospitalized in London since Monday, Aug. 26 after she was struck by a car in the city center of the U.K. capital.

Gontareva told the Kyiv Post on Aug. 30 that “her friends” do not believe the incident was an accident and that the police are looking into the possibility of foul play.

“The police are doing an investigation now,” she said. “It happened in the center of London… on a pedestrian crosswalk, so a lot of witnesses and CCTV records there. Hope we will have an answer one day,” the senior economist added.

The former NBU chief has previously spoken out against threats she has allegedly received from people allegedly close to the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Gontareva has also told the Kyiv Post that she fears for her safety, even in London.

Gontareva was in charge of the NBU in 2016 when the country’s largest bank, PrivatBank, was nationalized and taken away from its then owners, Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholyubov.

Investigators discovered the bank had a $5.5-billion hole in its ledger and faced collapse after years of alleged insider lending and fraud. Multiple court cases, including in the U.K. and U.S., are currently ongoing in which PrivatBank is attempting to recover assets that it alleges were looted from the bank.

Gontareva, who was NBU governor until she resigned in May 2017 and is now an academic at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), recently told the Kyiv Post that the PrivatBank case is a litmus test for Ukrainian reforms and justice.

The economist also said that NBU independence must be “fiercely protected” while civil society and lawmakers should look for warning signs that its impartiality is under attack.

Gontareva says that she has fractured bones in her foot after being knocked down by the car. She has already undergone one operation and is awaiting another.

This is scary and hope the fears are unfounded. But who knows it could be the next low for central bankers where they are threatened elsewhere too. As I had asked: Who wants to be a central banker?

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