News / Europe

Washington React: FBI Helps Ukraine Recover Stolen Billions

Ukraine's fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych gives a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
Ukraine's fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych gives a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
FBI and U.S. Treasury agents have arrived in Kyiv to aid Ukraine’s interim leaders to uncover the financial crimes of the government of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in an effort to repatriate billions of dollars.
Ukraine's new government is determined to recover some of the billions of dollars it says went missing during Yanukovych’s regime.

And Washington is eager to assist.

“We are very interested in working with the government to support its investigations of those financial crimes, and we have already, on the ground here in Ukraine, experts from the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury who are working with their Ukrainian counterparts to support the Ukrainian investigation,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told reporters here on Monday.
According to Ukrainian officials more than $20 billion of gold reserves may have been embezzled and $37 billion in loans has disappeared.  In the past three years more than $70 billion was moved to offshore accounts from Ukraine’s financial system.
The country needs all the cash it can recover as it labors with debts of $75 billion.  Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, has lost more than 20 percent of its value this year.  With the revolution and political turmoil, the economy is limping along.

An International Monetary Fund team is in Ukraine negotiating the details of a $15 billion-package for the struggling economy.  The United States is providing $1 billion in loan guarantees to help restore financial stability.

The American ambassador says the United States is not the only country trying to help recover stolen funds.
“There are a variety of other governments who are also interested in this through the international financial networks to uncover the financial crimes committed by the previous regime and to see what can be done to recuperate some of those assets,” Pyatt said.
But while Ukrainian authorities, with the assistance of outsiders, scour the books and analyze digital data in a bid to pick up the money trails, some Ukrainians worry that those who had a hand in aiding and abetting the pillaging of the country are being given government jobs.
The interim government has appointed some of the country’s oligarchs as regional governors.  Opposition lawmaker and rights activist Lesya Orobets is not delighted with the picks.
“I am not comfortable with those appointments, but I do see common sense in that,” Orobets said. “We have to appoint those people who, acting together with the interim government before the presidential elections, will gain the control of the country.  This is very important.”
Orobets is comforting herself with the knowledge that there is not much left to steal and hopes the oligarchs will use this as an opportunity to be responsible.
“The previous regime has already stolen everything,” she said. “This is a big chance for them to show they can behave differently.”
But one of the grassroots leaders of the Maidan revolution, Sergey Poyarkov, warns loans given now by the United States or European countries should be closely monitored.
“If you give some money, control the money,” he said. “And you should demand that any payment for anyone should be openly visible on the website of the ministry or that department.  That is the only way your money will not be stolen.”
The interim government has appointed Tetyana Chornovol, an investigative journalist who was nearly beaten to death in December for her reporting, to lead the effort to recover the stolen billions.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: john from: ocala, fl
March 11, 2014 2:10 PM
Funny Merkel was hiding in the shadows, recently, seemingly afraid to alienate Putin.Now that she has been assured that hr gold delivery is on the way, she's back in public view, denouncing Putin for HIS destabilization of the Ukraine and other assorted nonsense. Interesting how a big shipment of shiny gold bars can have such a profound affect on one's politics....

by: Anonymous from: Sweden
March 11, 2014 12:56 PM
This article is laughable. It is already well reported that Ukraine's gold was loaded on a plane and flown to New York to the Federal Reserve. Now the U.S. is trying to cover their act of theft by blaming the prior government of the Ukraine for the "missing gold" which they stole. .
In Response

by: Patski from: United States of America
March 13, 2014 11:14 PM

by: James from: Oxford, England
March 11, 2014 12:10 PM
What is it with the US and other peoples' gold? Strange how the FBI is assisting in locating Ukraine's bullion but not lifting a finger to facilitate the return of Germany's 1000 tons - meaning it has effectively been stolen by the US. Trusting the US with your gold is akin to putting a fox in charge of the hen house or, in this case, a bullion thief in charge of your bullion - never a wise course of action.

by: john from: ocala, fl
March 11, 2014 10:57 AM
If the FBI / US "assisted" in the heist of this gold, the idea that it went to Yanukovych is absurd. The West, especially the Fed, is desperate...and I mean desperate...for gold. The German repatriation scandal needs to be kept in check and deliverating this gold to Germany is critical. Every time there is a repatriation request from a soverign central bank, there is an invasion followed by a gold heist, followed by this delivery. Veneuzeula got it's gold from the US invasion of Libya. Germany got the first install of it's gold from the invasion of Mali,,,but raised eyebrows because of it's meager size. mark my words, the US will somehow magically find a way to make the next delivery to Germany.
In Response

by: john from: ocala, fl
March 11, 2014 4:33 PM
Of course Yanukovych stole lots of money. Lots of it. But getting the US to "help" track it down is laughable. The US does takes what it wants...and right now what it wants and needs is the Ukraine's gold and anything else it can loot from this conflict. The US spent 25billion so far destabilizing Ukraine. I can assure you of 3 things...1) the US feels enetitled to anything it can grab 2) the US will grab anything b4 Russia has a chance to and 3) there is nothing little Ukraine can do about it later when it realizes later that the US has stuck it to them.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 11, 2014 1:51 PM
Yanukovic didn't buy that nice house with savings from his piggy bank.

by: Simonzee1 from: Australia
March 10, 2014 9:37 PM
This is quite fitting for a coup leader and Obama to have a pow-wow. Two people who talk of democracy but undermine the principles thereof.This visit is just more Obama swag...more smoke and mirrors from a president that would love the "Hollywood" sign placed above the statue of Liberty, "Hollywood best represents American values" he says. Well he is right in his own mind as he gives us a great mix of fiction mixed with non-fiction storylines..Meanwhile back in the real world....the real what they call... "Water Shed in Modern History" is Libya with America, France and Britain...and Johnny-come-lately Germany exercising their mission creep and murder. That opened the floodgates of a new arms race...Nations now know if they do not have nuclear weapons their sovereignty at any moment could be kicked to the wayside.The Ukraine is as successul for the West in sending other troubling messages like..."If you don't like your government have a coup." Much worse that "If you like your health plan you can keep it."Following the example in the Ukraine protestors in Libya took you up on your version of international law and started shooting MP's and storming Congress. Clearly....undeniably... after "Libya"... NATO...the E.U and the U.N has very little credibility.As I said before those 67% of Americans who as it stands, would like to throw their lawmakers to the street if they could, may wish to consider the option when their gas bills become unaffordable as vast amounts of gas are exported to Europe to play cold war games. What did Obama say to Romney..."Hhhh...the cold war ended 20 years ago." Well he is in a hurry to bring it back after the Libyan mission creep and the supporting of a coup with the E.U. Just look at the current state of Libya. I'm sure Putin will do a better job with Crimea but I think the E.U and America are determined for the Ukraine to become another Libya. If they cannot have it all they will wreck it all. That's their legacy folks just look at the middle-east.By the the history of Henry VII because he set the template of rule and the powerstructures for modern Europe in the form of the E.U. It is important to say that England breathed a sigh of relief when Henry VII reign was over
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 11, 2014 1:52 PM
you should get back on your meds

by: Anonymous
March 10, 2014 8:28 PM
I would put money on the missing money being taken by Viktor Yanukovych, and some of which lined Putins pockets. Thats just my first opinion.

by: Anonymous
March 10, 2014 8:25 PM
You know the only reason Putin sent "Masked" and "Unidentifiable" troops without any markings, is obviously because he was afraid to display the men are proud of what they are doing. Obviously they could not use the Russian insignia on their uniforms because it would be such a disgrace to the Nation of Russia what they are doing. Instead Putin takes the "Thugs" approach, gangster style, which is unnacceptable, and illegal.

It's time the world steps on Putins toes, hard. Show Putin his idiotic acts will not be tolerated in 2014. He is probably pissed off that nobody showed up for Sochi, because everyone boycotted it. Now the world will boycott Russia even more... We the world love Russian people however the leader is the problem, not just for the world but also for Russians. Russian people should not be penalized for Putins actions. This is why the Russians should do what is best for Russia and world peace, and that is to overthrow Putin, take to the streets.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 31, 2014 6:05 PM
And you'll be the one stepping on his toes?

by: Martin Edwin Andersen from: Churchton, Maryland
March 10, 2014 6:23 PM
A new twist in Ukraine of the phrase, "show me the money." ... For a former Foreign Relations Committee professional staff member working for the late Senator Alan Cranston, who pushed hard to establish FBI legal attache offices east of Vienna following the fall of the Berlin Wall, this move is key.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs