Who and How Many Cryptocurrencies Do Ukrainian High-Level Officials Own?

Published on 02 Nov. 2017
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Four people’s deputies, several regional council deputies, and some other government officials were discovered to own Bitcoin. This was investigated by the activists of the public movement “Chesno” (“Honestly”); the results were published in the report.

Bitcoin doesn’t yet have a defined legal status in Ukraine. It was stated by the deputy head of the NBU Oleg Churii on the conference Ukrainian Financial Forum 2017:

We can say this is definitely not currency because there is no central issuer. We cannot admit it as a payment instrument.

Besides this, two draft bills were introduced in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine during the last month. The bills aim at providing the legal status to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general in the legal field of the state.

Among the high-level politicians, the following people’s deputies own Bitcoin: Oleksij Mushak, Dmytro Bilotserkovets, Oleksandr Urbanskyj, and the Head of Odesa Regional Council Anatolij Urbanskyj, a brother of the people’s deputy Oleksandr. All deputies are from the Petro Poroshenko’s block “Solydarnist.”

Also, the deputies Urbansky and the BPP (Block of Petro Poroshenko) deputy Dmytro Golubov made changes in their declarations after the August, 1 when the Bitcoin Cash fork had happened.

Since there is no single definition for cryptocurrencies from NBU, deputies declare them in different ways. So, Urbanskyj and Bilotserkovets included cryptocurrency to the movables, and Mushak and Golubov – to the monetary assets.  

On request from the activists about the way they received Bitcoin Oleksandr Urbanskyj answered:

Thank you for your personal involvement, but this is private information, and I don’t want to reveal it. It does not contradict the Ukrainian legislation, and this is the most important.

Another deputy, Oleksij Mushak, didn’t buy Bitcoin but mined it. However, he has already stopped this activity. He had declared 465 Bitcoins in the chapter Savings in 2015, and in 2016 their amount didn’t increase:

I’ve been involved in Bitcoin and mining since 2013. I didn’t purchase, I was involved in mining. I was the first deputy to declare Bitcoins.

Despite the lack of cryptocurrency regulation, Dmytro Bilotserkovets outspoke that NBU didn’t forbid keeping Bitcoin but forbids mining it:

I’ve started to look at Bitcoin since 2013. Several years ago it seemed like a promising investment. Everybody understood that the course would only grow. I used [Bitcoin] to pay for services or purchases on the Internet, particularly, purchased plane tickets. It is very convenient when you are traveling a lot. But I don’t have much as compared to other deputies. I think my colleagues will tell you more.

Dmytro Golubov mentioned his luck with Bitcoin and said that Bitcoin should not be taxed:

Once I bought Bitcoin, it cost $50, and sold it for $1000, earning $950 on every coin. Why should I pay taxes from that? Firstly, it is unclear how to formalize this procedurally and legally. Secondly, this is my personal luck. Why should I pay taxes for luck? Even winnings in the casino are not allowed to be taxed and confiscated. It is not necessary to pay for the fortune.

Apart from the VRU, even more owners of cryptocurrency were detected in Odesa.  

“Samopomich” deputy of Odesa city council Ganna Posdnyakova mentioned 98 Bitcoins in her declaration. By the 31st of December, 2016 they cost 2.608 million UAH. About the origin of Bitcoin she said she had been interested in cryptocurrency earlier, having referred to her economic education:

I’m a financier, my position is a financial director. When cryptocurrency appeared, I’ve got interested in it. It was widely discussed in the financial world. Bitcoins can be cashed through the Privat bank, through the PayPal.

Besides this, she mentioned that there were a lot of Bitcoin users in Odesa, since “we have ATMs to cash in cryptocurrency. Odesa is probably not the first city in the world, but absolutely not the last.” 

In the Odesa regional council, six deputies own Bitcoin, including the head of the regional council Anatolij Urbanskyj.

Activists found out about cryptocurrency owners in the Kyiv, Dnipro, and Bucha councils as well. In addition, government officials Yuriy Dushejko, CEO of “Palada” company (vessels and floating constructions, ownership of “Ukroboronprom”), and Valentyn Sandul from “Odesa Railway” have some Bitcoins.

The deputy Vladyslav Mykchajlenko, unlike his colleagues, has declared not Bitcoin but Ethereum, which he, however, doesn’t use. He’s explained why he chose this currency:

I purchased the cheapest one. On the advice of friends who are acquainted with the financial market. I had not enough money for Bitcoin.

Mykchajlenko also expressed the hope that Ethereum would function fully on the territory of Ukraine in the nearest future:

Unfortunately, it is not common in Ukraine. This is for future. I hope this system becomes more developed in Ukraine. It’s a good alternative for people since there is no trust in the bank system.

The activists of “Chesno” also stated that “Anna Islamova” specified in her declaration “zero” revenues and mentioned that she was “temporarily unemployed.” How the Bucha regional council deputy found out about cryptocurrency and why she purchased it, Ms. Islamova didn’t answer.”

The activists also report that directors of communal enterprises, university employees, inspectors, and firefighters own cryptocurrencies as well.

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