Ukrainian state bank chief suspended after scuffle with investigative journalists
KYIV, October 6 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s third-largest bank suspended its chairman on Wednesday after a video showed a scuffle in its office with journalists investigating the bank’s lending practices.
State lender Ukreximbank said in a statement it suspended Yevgen Metsger and apologized to reporters.
“The supervisory board of Ukreximbank, after an emergency meeting, decided to suspend the powers of the chairman of the board of Ukreximbank, Mr. Metsger, for the duration of the internal investigation of the board of surveillance, ”he said.
She apologized to journalists “as well as to the media and civil society for the regrettable and inappropriate behavior of the chairman of the board and representatives of the bank”.
Police have opened a criminal investigation into the clash with Radio Liberty reporters and Metsger said he would resign if police found him guilty of committing a crime.
Metsger could not be reached immediately for comment on the incident, but in a statement he said:
“There is no excuse for my overly emotional reaction and frantic behavior towards journalists. I am fully aware of my responsibility.”
Radio Liberty said bank staff attacked the film crew of its “Schemes” program investigating a loan made by the bank. The bank denied any wrongdoing regarding the loans in a statement and said bank secrecy laws prevented it from discussing the matter.
Radio Liberty said it managed to restore footage of the confrontation with Metsger despite the bank’s attempt to remove it.
In the video, Metsger is heard refusing to give an interview and ordering staff to seize the cameras and destroy all footage.
“Go see the IT people, clean up all that shit,” we hear him say.
The video has gone viral, with more than 343,000 views on YouTube since its publication on Tuesday. The incident also drew criticism from a senior official under President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental values in Ukraine,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the president’s chief of staff.
“The pattern of behavior that the company has seen from representatives of the bank is unacceptable.”
Additional reporting by Valentin Ogirenko; edited by Matthias Williams and Jon Boyle
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