News: Delaware Court Puts PrivatBank’s Claims Against American Businessmen On Ice

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In a decision and order issued this week, Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III, of the Delaware Chancery Court, stayed…

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In a decision and order issued this week, Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III, of the Delaware Chancery Court, stayed all claims asserted by the Ukrainian state-owned bank PrivatBank against all named defendants in the action, which has been pending for more than two years. The defendants include American businessmen Mordechai «Motti» Korf and Uriel «Uri» Laber, and their U.S. companies, Optima 1375 II, LLC and Optima International of Miami, Inc., as well as other U.S.-based entities Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber owned and/or operated along with their Ukrainian business partners. 

PrivatBank is the largest financial institution in Ukraine, owned by the Ukrainian government since it was nationalized in 2016. In May 2019, PrivatBank filed a lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against Mr. Korf, Mr. Laber, various companies, and the bank’s founders and former controlling shareholders, Ukrainian businessmen Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov. PrivatBank alleges that Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov oversaw a scheme to fraudulently procure loans from PrivatBank and to launder the loan proceeds through various accounts around the world. According to PrivatBank, the allegedly stolen funds were ultimately invested in U.S.-based assets by Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber. In issuing a stay that puts PrivatBank’s claims on ice, the Delaware court relied on, among other things, a spate of recent decisions by eight different courts in Ukraine, including six trial-level courts and two appellate courts, unanimously ruling that the very loans PrivatBank claims were fraudulent in the Delaware case were in fact perfectly legitimate, and that PrivatBank’s allegations were contrary to the evidence. 

Mark Ressler, of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, who represents Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber and who argued the stay motion, issued the following statement:  

«We are pleased that Vice Chancellor Slights recognized the fundamentally Ukrainian nature of this dispute and stayed PrivatBank’s baseless claims pending ongoing developments in Ukraine, where court after court has analyzed the evidence and found that PrivatBank’s allegations have no basis in fact. As we have long asserted, this case stems from an internal Ukrainian political dispute that has nothing to do with Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber, who are eager to focus on their families, businesses and philanthropic activities.» 

Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber are lifelong American citizens and leaders in the metallurgical and commercial real estate industries, who have created hundreds of jobs in the Midwestern and Southern United States, including in economically depressed areas in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. They reside in Miami, Florida with their wives and children and are business leaders and highly regarded philanthropists in the Jewish communities in Miami and beyond. Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber met Mr. Kolomoisky and Mr. Bogolyubov in Ukraine, while on a religious mission in the early 1990s as young Jewish students following the fall of the Soviet Union. Over the years, they have partnered with Mr. Kolomoisky and Mr. Bogolyubov on various investments, first in Ukraine, and later in the United States.  

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SOURCE Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP