Roshen was founded in 1996 after Poroshenko merged half a dozen chocolate, cookie and cake producers that he controlled, taking the name from the middle letters of his family name.
Secondly, under the contract, neither my signature nor my orders have legal force,” Poroshenko told reporters at a press conference in January this year.
Poroshenko has thus blurred the line between business and politics, deflected the anti-corruption efforts at every turn, and the businesses and politicians associated with him are flourishing at a time when Ukraine’s economy is mired in its worst crisis since the country’s independence in 1991.
Chocolate wars The most valuable assets in Poroshenko’s empire are his Roshen Confectionery Corporation, a chocolate maker that has attracted most of the media attention, along with his TV5 broadcaster, which Poroshenko said from the start was not going to be sold.
When Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, was swept into power following the Euromaidan protests two years ago, he promised to sell most of his business interests to avoid any conflicts of interest. I will make a point of selling my assets immediately after occupying the post,” Poroshenko promised in the run-up to the presidential election that he won in 2014. Quite the opposite in fact; according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), in 2015 not only did President Poroshenko’s personal fortune rise to $858mn, he was the only one of Ukraine’s wealthy businessmen to see his net worth actually increase that year.
Poroshenko, it seems, has continued building an empire centred on a holding company registered in Kyiv, called Prime Assets Capital, of which he is beneficial owner, according to the Ukrainian corporate register.
For a sitting president to own a TV station is unorthodox to say the least, but in the political chaos following the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, the Ukrainian public and the country’s international partners were prepared to overlook it.
Poroshenko did make some attempt to sell Roshen, which he valued at bn, promising to “wipe the slate clean” in an interview with the German tabloid : “I will and want to only focus on the wellbeing of the nation.” But he has failed to follow through on that pledge.
Poroshenko holds 60% in International Investment Bank (not to be confused with the Moscow-based multilateral development bank of the same name) via Prime Assets Capital and directly, according to National Bank of Ukraine data.
The bank acts as the financial node of a tangled web of companies and investments that is as active today as it ever was. His two longstanding business associates, who hold stakes in many of his businesses, have followed him into politics, but remain key players in the Poroshenko financial-industrial group, a investigation can reveal.
It earned 0mn in 2014, but that fell to 0mn in 2015 during the recent political unrest and clash with Russia in the east of the country.
But with both the country and Poroshenko’s business empire under attack from Russia, it proved impossible to do a deal.