KIEV Dec 9 Ukraine's largest steel mill, owned
by ArcelorMittal, accused local law enforcement
agencies on Friday of disrupting the business with unwarranted
Paramjit Kahlon, chief executive of the Kryvyi Rih mill, was
quoted by Interfax Ukraine as saying the agencies - which he did
not identify - had interrogated management at the business.
"It's clear pressure on us to share things with certain
persons," he was quoted as saying, without elaborating.
"There's big pressure from law enforcement bodies. I don't
know if it comes from their own initiative or from some
political force, but it brings large risks to the stable work of
The allegations from one of the largest foreign investors in
Ukraine could be embarrassing for the government, which is
seeking to prove to Western backers and businesses its
commitment to eliminating corruption and cronyism.
"Today the leaders of the country are making all efforts to
attract investment to Ukraine. But I am afraid that this might
not happen ... The situation with ArcelorMittal is a benchmark
for other investors," Kahlon was quoted as saying.
He said the company had sent a complaint to prosecutors.
The prosecutors were not immediately available to comment.
The Kryvyi Rih mill produced 6.3 million tonnes of steel and
5.3 million tonnes of rolled products in 2015.
ArcelorMittal, which has spent $10.4 billion on the mill
since acquiring it in 2005, is the kind of large foreign company
whose investment Ukraine is anxious to attract to shore up its
war-torn economy, which is emerging from two years of recession.
Ukraine's leadership, which came to power after massive
pro-European street protests in 2013-2014, promised to implement
reforms in exchange for a $40 billion bailout package led by the
International Monetary Fund.
Some key steps have been taken, including the launch of an
online wealth declaration tool to boost transparency around the
source of officials' income, but a September poll showed 85
percent of Ukrainians do not believe the broader fight against
corruption has been effective.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Alessandra Prentice
and Mark Potter)