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The assets of Sergiy Groza and Voloymyr Naumenko, owners of GNT Group and Olimpex Coupe International, a grain terminal in Ukraine’s Port of Odessa, have been frozen following an order issued by the High Court of England, World Grain reported.

The order was issued on 14 January in response to a claim brought forward by US investment companies Innovatus Capital Partners and Argentem Creek Partners (ACP), creditors of GNT Group, the 17 January report said.

ACP issued a statement on its website on 14 January saying that despite Innovatus’ and ACP’s continued support for GNT Group, including the offer to postpone loan payments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year, investigations had revealed that the company had liquidated all grain pledged to Innovatus without notice or consent.

Grain leaving the Port of Odessa had become a critical aspect of negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, and world leaders due to its significance for global food security, ACP said, and the Black Sea Grain Initiative extension, which enabled the partial resumption of Ukrainian grain exports following a naval blockade by Russia, highlighted the importance of ensuring terminals in the region operated efficiently, transparently and with integrity.

“The strategic importance of grain leaving Odessa’s port for global food security is clear to all supporters of Ukraine. Innovatus remain steadfast in our continued commitment to invest in Ukraine and support its economy,” Innovatus managing director Ana Firmato was quoted as saying.

In the statement, Firmato said that investigations had shown that all grain pledged to Innovatus had been liquidated by the owners of GNT Group, meaning that Innovatus had no choice but to pursue a worldwide freezing order to prevent further dissipation of assets by Naumenko and Groza.

“Since enforcement actions have begun, we have identified the transfer of members of the GNT Group which own silos to an entity in Switzerland which we understand is controlled by GNT Group’s chief financial officer Dusan Denic. Once GNT Group relinquishes control of the port to responsible operators, these issues will be resolved with minimal disruption to the grain corridor. We are determined to continue our broader commitment to invest in Ukraine,” ACP’s portfolio manager for EMEA and Asia John Patton was quoted as saying.

GNT Group denied the allegations in a statement to the Ukrainian News Agency in late December, World Grain wrote.