Welcome, people, to November’s Reportercast, with a very distinguished guest – Valeria Hontareva, the former central bank governor of Ukraine (2014-2017), and now a world-famous expert on finance reforms, banking governance and monetary policy.
Hontareva is also one of the bravest central bankers the world has ever seen, having closed dozens of dirty banks affiliated with Russian interests, oligarchs, corruption and organized crime in Ukraine, eve as her life came under direct threat from these ruthless people, and several attempts were made to harm and intimidate her.
She resiged and relocated to the UK shortly after nationalising the country’s top bank, PrivatBank, which turned out to have been looted by the previous owners to the tune of at least $5 billion, passing on the cost to the Ukraine taxpayer.
It’s no exaggeration to say Ukraine has managed to resist the Russian invasion so well partly because Hontareva strengthened the foundation of the country’s economy with her reforms. She is a great friend of the cause of fighting corruption and dirty money, she knows what policies work and she has the courage to speak out. These attributes are rare, to say the least, in the staid world of high finance.
We were privileged to have her on, and Matei Rosca, the host, thanks her for the gift of a signed copy of her book, Mission Possible.
In the wide-ranging discussion she went over her biography, why she decided to give up a comfortable life as one of Ukraine’s top investment bankers, why she decided to refuse to yield under pressure to do less reform, what lessons can Western policymakers learn, how to carry out a successful financing of Ukraine’s reconstruction, and how to stay resilient in the face of what increasingly appears to be an imminent global financial and economic crisis.
Hontareva is in favour of immediately confiscating Russia’s international central banking reserves, already frozen since the February 2022 invasion (to the tune of around $300 billion), but is more nuanced regarding the fortunes of Putin’s oligarchs who have come under sanctions. One interesting aspect of her thinking that hasn’t come up elsewhere is that she would like the Russian reserves to be split evenly between Ukraine and its international partners who have supplied it with around $80 billion in cash and aid already since the total war began.
Much obliged once again to A.U. whose production and video editing skills salvaged what was a less that pristine piece of raw footage executed by the technologically inept host.