|Active in||Ukraine, Lesotho|
One of the most powerful men in Ukraine, millionaire Eduard Prutnik has moved – almost seamlessly – between key roles in domestic NGOs, through the corridors of government and the media - then back again. He might fairly be described as a “Ukrainean George Soros”.
Currently Prutnik's main social endeavour centres on promoting the “United World” International Foundation, created on his initiative in April 2008 and of which he is chair. The foundation aims at “raising the awareness of Ukrainian citizens of their national identity, importance to their community and the whole world, and securing their rights and opportunities in the global society”
Prutnik also holds substantial business interests in agriculture, property, ore processing, mining, leisure and other industries.
In a profile of Prutnik, featured on the Kyiv Post website (and provocatively entitled “Not without sin”) his key interests are described as being in Metallurgy and mass media . Although, in recent years, he has arranged a “serious sale” of various of his media assets, according to the Kyiv Post, he “did not get poor as a church mouse”. This was because he has held on to many industrial (including metals-related) interests and ones in banking. In May 2009, Prutnik, was dismissed as head of the State committee for TV and radio Broadcasting, since it is “illegal to combine the mandate of a parliament[ary] member with [a] state official position” .
In June 2010, Interfax Ukraine reported that Prutnik, in his role as chairman of the United World International Foundation , had also signed a memorandum with the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) - the key agency providing political risk insurance to foreign companies, including several major mining ventures [see: Roger Moody The Risks We Run: Mining, Communities and Political Risk Insurance, International Books, Utrecht, pps 18-27]. This allowed OPIC to resume its activities in Ukraine, thus “encourag[ing] private investment in all branches of the Ukrainian economy and assum[ing] an important role in increasing trade between the two countries.
Said OPIC: "The United World International Foundation has become a key tool for restarting the OPIC's activities in Ukraine and is a main partner of the corporation in its activities in Ukraine” [Interfax Ukraine, 24 June 2010].
Prudnik’s most important recent mining-related investment is in London-listed Namakwa Diamonds plc, made through his own investment company, Jarvirne Ltd, which has held around 4.97% in the company for the past year. [Hemscott 14 September 2011].
However, as part of shakeup at Namakwa in August 2011, following a share collapse of 60%, the mining company said it would sell its business in the Democratic Republic of Congo; wind up its diamond trading joint ventures; and also “move its South African operations to a contractor model.” [Dow Jones newswires, 1 September 2011].
This would leave Namakwa operating only its 12.6-million carat Kao kimberlite diamond project in Lesotho.
Prudnik’s influence over this decision is evident in Jarvirne then arranging a $40-million, two-year loan, with Namakwa, and agreeing to exchange his capital investment in the diamond company’s trading and beneficiation division for 61.75-million shares - eventually boosting his equity to 28.45%.
To “reflect Jarvirne's strategic investment”, the company also appointed two nominee directors to its board [Dow Jones newswire 8 September 2011]. One of these directors is Gerard Holden – notorious for his role in promoting GCM's open-cast coal project in northwestern Bangladesh and as chair of Brinkley Mining and Lonrho africa [see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org//article.php?a=4439]