Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s billionaire “chocolate king,” whose corporate empire includes automotive plants, a shipyard, a TV channel and the country’s largest candy company, won the presidential election of 2014 by a landslide, a result widely attributed to his political acumen. Poroshenko has adroitly shifted his political affiliations over the years and avoided being tainted by Ukraine’s long line of corrupt leaders and oligarchs. Although he vowed to oppose the oligarchs and “prevent the inappropriate influence of private interests on the state,” critics are still waiting for him to deliver. A supporter of the 2004 pro-Europe, pro-democracy Orange Revolution, he also has positioned himself as a nationalist who could pursue peaceful relations with Russia.
In the data
In August 2014, as Russian troops rolled into Eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko became the sole shareholder of Prime Asset Partners Limited, which Mossack Fonseca set up in the British Virgin Islands. A Cyprus law firm representing the newly acquired company described it as a “holding company of Cyprus and Ukrainian companies of the Roshen Group, one of the largest European manufacturers of confectionery products.” The firm wrote that, though Prime Assets Partners was for “a person involved in politics,” it had “nothing to do with his political activities." During his 2015 presidential campaign, Poroshenko had pledged to sell most of his assets, all of which were transferred to Prime Assets Capital, according to a news account. In October 2014, a Ukrainian bank in which Poroshenko owns a majority stake, International Invest Bank, wrote a reference letter to Mossack Fonseca saying that his accounts there “have been conducted properly up to our satisfaction.”
A spokesman for Poroshenko said that creation of the trust and related corporate structures had no relation to political and military events in Ukraine. Although Poroshenko didn't include Prime Asset Partners in his financial disclosures, his financial advisers noted that neither Prime Asset Partners nor two related companies in Cyprus and the Netherlands hold assets. They said that the company was part of a corporate restructuring to help sell the Roshen group. The structure is in line with "the market practice in Ukraine for businesses aiming to sell to strategic investors or to enter the capital markets, launch IPO, etc.," the advisers wrote. Although Poroshenko is the shareholder, his shares are managed by a licensed asset management company, and his assets have been held by an independently managed fund, Prime Asset Capital, since 2005, the advisers said. Those assets will be transferred to a "blind trust" once legal formalities are completed, according to the advisers.
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