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Ukraine gets British top manager for $72,000 a month

Andriy Kobolev, Mark Rollins and Igor Kolomoisky. Photo: rbc.ua

One more foreigner has been appointed as top manager in Ukraine. But this appointee has turned out to have a clouded reputation. On July 22, the shareholders of Ukrnafta elected Mark Rollins to chair the company’s board. The first thing Rollins said was that strong Ukrnafta would be a guarantee of strong Ukraine.

In 2009, Rollins was Vice President of the Kazakh subsidiary of BG Group, with few things known about him. In 2010, he was criticized by the managers of KazMunayGas for greed and irresponsibility. This fact became known when WikiLeaks published a letter of the US Ambassador to Kazakhstan about his dinner with Vice President of KazMunayGas Maksat Idenov. At that time, Rollins was responsible for the company’s talks to sell a stake in the Karachaganak oil field.

When the ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone: 'Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10pm’.

Idenov then allegedly told the ambassador: “I tell him, Mark, stop being an idiot. Stop tempting fate! Do you know how much he makes? $72,000 a month! A month!! Plus benefits! Plus bonuses! Lives in Switzerland but supposedly works in London. Comes here once a month to check in. Nice life, huh?”

According to The Telegraph, the deal to sell the stake in the Karachaganak field has still not gone through. But the most astonishing thing for the British daily was the salary of Rollins.

Ukrnafta has not specified how much Rollins will get there. Rollins said he was satisfied. He may well get more than the CEO of Naftogaz does (1,500 EUR a month).

The appointment of such an official proves that Ukraine’s energy security is not a priority for the Ukrainian authorities and their western partners for the moment.

Rollins’s predecessor, Belgian Peter Vanhecke, was not very efficient either. Under him, the company was forced to cut its production, with the state losing billions of UAH. Even more, Vanhecke was believed to be Igor Kolomoisky’s man.

Kolomoisky has controlled Ukrnafta since 2003. He survived even the regime of Viktor Yanukovych and is said to still be the key player in the company.

Following a conflict over Ukrnafta and Ukrtransneft in Mar 2015, Kolomoisky was forced to flee. Then many experts hoped that the authorities were starting to fight oligarchs. But now they say that Rollins is Kolomoisky’s man.

CEO of Naftogaz Andriy Kobolev says that Rollins’s appointment was preceded by his hard talks with Kolomoisky, but some other sources report that the British manager was nominated by the Cypriot companies holdings stakes in Ukrnafta on Kolomoisky’s behalf. Kolomoisky was present during the voting. Rollins was elected by 99.7% of the votes.

Following his appointment, Rollins promised to change all of the company’s managers and to announce a public competition. It is not known what this will end in. What is known is that under Kolomoisky Ukrnafta’s oil output dropped from 2.9 million tons to 1.9 million tons. The company owes the state as much as 5.1bn UAH, has failed to pay dividends since 2010 and is losing 1.5bn UAH a year because of selling its products cheap to Kolomoisky’s companies.

It is worth mentioning, Ukraine is now on the verge of bankruptcy. It cannot repay debts without Western loans; the heating season in Europe and Ukraine is under threat. Pumping of the Russian gas into gas storage facilities was stopped. The country has no money.

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