Ukraine’s parliament has approved 44-year-old Ihor Petrashko as economy minister, whose management career has been in large-scale farming, investment banking, and consulting.
A stable majority of 243 lawmakers voted for Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s appointee on March 17, the last day before the legislature went on quarantine amid a snowballing coronavirus outbreak.
The vote came the same day Iryna Venedyktova was approved as the new prosecutor-general, completing a government reshuffle initiated by the president on March 4 after six months of installing his original team.
As minister of the economy, trade, and agriculture, the politically untested Petrashko takes control over an economy bracing for a potential economic fallout amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
The nation’s currency, the hryvnia, has dipped by 5 percent since early March and the central bank last week spent more than $1 billion from a $26 billion stockpile as part of an intervention to prevent devaluation.
Petrashko most recently was the deputy CEO of UkrLandFarming, Ukraine’s largest egg producer and operator of one of the most expansive farmland holdings owned by oligarch Oleh Bakhmatyuk.
Bakhmatyuk is currently residing abroad amid debt problems and investigations into his business dealings, including a bank he owned that is suspected of embezzling nearly $50 million before its license was revoked in 2015.
Petrashko was educated at the Lviv National Polytechnical University and also studied abroad at the Tennessee-based Vanderbilt University, graduating in 2001 with a business administration degree. He returned to Lviv to earn a law degree in 2002.
He went on to work with Enron Energy Services and GlobalSpec, both U.S.-based companies.
In 2004, Petrashko migrated to the Moscow office of auditor Ersnt & Young and then joined the firm’s Kyiv office in less than a year.
Three years later he started working for the Ukrainian unit of Russian investment bank Troika Dialog as managing director.
Between 2012 and 2013, Petrashko worked for Russian state-owned Sberbank in Ukraine, heading its corporate business department.
In April 2013, he was hired as deputy CEO of UkrLandFarming.