A supposedly shuttered U.S. steel plant owned by Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky is said to have been mining bitcoin.
Kolomoyskyy, one of the most influential people in Ukraine with net worth of $1.1 billion, is the former owner of PrivatBank, a major privately owned bank in the country. He was also governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region until 2015.
His Calvert City, Ky.-based CC Metals & Alloys steel plant has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and corruption allegations against Kolomoisky were filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. The facility closed and let staff go this summer, but “every few months, it re-ignited the furnaces and urged the workers to return,” Radio Liberty reported Monday.
The only activity continuing at the plant is the production of bitcoin, employees told the multimedia broadcaster. The sources said one of the warehouses is filled with mining equipment, though it’s not clear how many devices are on site and of what type or brand.
Kolomoisky and his partner Gennady Bogolyubov bought the plant plant in 2011 for $188 million as a part of a plan to build their metal business in the U.S., which grew to seven plants across five states.
The holding firm, Optima Specialty Steel, filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and ownership of the plant passed to another firm, Georgian American Alloys, of which Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov are beneficiaries, according to a court document.
Further adding to their woes, the U.S. Department of Justice this year accused Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov of buying real estate and businesses in the U.S. for money misappropriated from PrivatBank from 2008 to 2016. The DOJ alleges the partners had “obtained fraudulent loans and lines of credit” from the bank before it was nationalized by the National Bank of Ukraine in 2016.
They “created a web of entities, usually under some variation of the name ‘Optima,’ to further launder the misappropriated funds and invest them,” the DOJ said.