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Ukrainian energy official's girlfriend reportedly buys posh mansion

The purchase was made a month before the energy commission approved a controversial coal price formula.

Ukrainian energy official's girlfriend reportedly buys posh mansion
Photo: Bihus.info

Sleuth journalists of the TV programme "Nashi Hroshi with Denys Bihus" have revealed that the presumed civil partner of Dmytro Vovk, 27, chairman of the National Commission of Ukraine for Energy, Housing and Utilities Services Regulation (NCER), in February 2016, acquired a mansion in the village of Ivankovychi outside Kyiv worth an estimated 1.5m-2million dollars, according to UNIAN.

The property was officially registered in the name of Liliya Silchenko, who has never owned a business, journalist Maryana Motrunych said in her investigative report.

Silchenko's parents are not entrepreneurs either. Silchenko's employer is unknown. 

Documented connections between Silchenko and Vovk are almost nil, but her neighbours identified Vovk and the programme's journalists met him near her house one evening.

One month after the bargain deal, the NCER in March 2016 changed the pricing formula of coal bought by the state for thermal power plants. The new formula is dubbed "Rotterdam + Delivery."

According to the NCER, locally produced coal is bought at the price of coal sold at the Dutch port of Rotterdam (from South Africa or Americas, shipped by sea to the port). In addition, the price also includes the estimated cost of delivery from Rotterdam to Ukraine and reloading of coal at the port. However, Ukraine has not bought a single tonne of coal shipped from Rotterdam. Ukrainian thermal power plants get coal from occupied territories in Luhansk and Donetsk regions and from Ukraine-controlled Volyn, Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

The NCER proposed that the Ukrainian coal be bought at the price of South African coal, which is shipped overseas, the journalists said. The new "Rotterdam + Delivery" formula is also the basis for other tariff calculations.

Expert Andriy Herus stated "that increased price is part of our power rates and is actually the reason why rates are growing. And if the formula remains, the rates will continue to increase." While the "Rotterdam + Delivery" formula was being approved, Vovk registered his car Mercedes GL 550, a 2010 model, which is priced at about 40,000 dollars. Significantly, he bought that car from Silchenko, Nashi Hroshi reported.

Silchenko's house earlier belonged to Oleksandr Zinchenko, deputy speaker of Ukraine's parliament and co-founder of TV channel Inter, who died of cancer in June 2010. The area of the house is almost 800 sq.m. and the plot of land on which it stands is half a hectare. In 2004, Zinchenko officially paid 250,000 dollars for the house.

At present, the market value of the house is put at 1.5m-2million dollars. The four-storey residence is close to the homes of former Energy Minister Yuriy Boiko (who held the post twice during the two tenures of Mykola Azarov as prime minister and once when Viktor Yanukovych was prime minister) and former Environment Minister Mykola Zlochevskyy (held the post twice under Azarov).

Vovk's income has declined in the past three years. In 2013, he declared over 1million hryvnyas. In 2014, while working at the Moscow-based branch of the Ukrainian Roshen Corporation, he declared almost 640,000 hryvnyas and 2million Russian roubles. During Vovk's year at the NCER, his earnings were lower. His total income for 2015 was 68,998 hryvnyas and his bank accounts last year had a little over 1million hryvnyas. In 2015, he declared an Infiniti M35, made in 2007. His declaration in 2013 included a Mercedes-Benz ML 350, made in 2008. Vovk officially declared two plots of land and a 243-square-meter house, which he bought in the village of Zelenyy Bor, in 2009. He also declared as an asset one third of an apartment in a new residential building in Kyiv's Solomyanskyy district and an apartment in Pechersk, Kyiv's elite neighbourhood. The latter was bought in 2014. Vovk bought this property almost at half the price of similar apartments being sold at the market price of 1,200 dollars per sq.m. From 2009 to 2013, Vovk was an associate, vice-president of ICU, owned by Central Bank Governor Valeriya Hontareva. From March 2013 to December 2014, he worked as Moscow-based Roshen manager for Ukraine. On 30 December 2014, he was appointed acting NCER head, and in June 2015 he started to head the NCER at full capacity.