Ukraine Loosened Further FX Controls and Created New Investment Opportunities
Starting from 25 February 2017, the National Bank of Ukraine (the "NBU") allows Ukrainian individuals (except for those registered as self-employed persons):
- to keep any FX funds originated outside of Ukraine (for example, royalties, dividends, salaries, payment for services, etc.) in their personal foreign accounts; and
- to invest such FX funds outside of Ukraine,
without obtaining an individual licence from the NBU.
Ukrainian individuals are still required to obtain an individual licence from the NBU in order to transfer any FX funds from Ukraine abroad, including for making any investments.
It has also been expressly stated that Ukrainian individuals are required to declare income and pay taxes in Ukraine on all foreign transactions in accordance with applicable laws.
It is not yet clear, however, how the NBU would verify the origin of funds in existing foreign accounts of Ukrainian individuals and how such accounts and/or any funds in there should be declared. In any event, some coordination and information exchange between the NBU and Ukrainian tax authorities is likely to be established. We expect to see some clarifications or additional rules from the regulator in that regard.
The new rules set by the NBU may significantly affect the existing framework of cross-border activities by Ukrainians, as they create a number of opportunities for Ukrainian individuals who have foreign proceeds, which have not been easily available before, including in particular:
- stock option plans, including any types of ESOPs ordinarily offered by multinational companies having employees in Ukraine;
- establishing foreign companies;
- trading on foreign stock exchanges; and
- acquiring shares, securities or making other investments outside Ukraine.
Investing in Ukraine
Furthermore, in order to attract more foreign investors to the upcoming privatisation of large Ukrainian state-owned companies, the NBU has exempted from the mandatory sale/conversion to UAH foreign currency funds transferred by non-residents to Ukraine as cash collateral (i.e. deposit guarantee, pledge or advance payment) in the course of auctions or tenders.
Ukraine currently works to abolish most of the existing FX limitations and move to a free market economy. This NBU resolution is a part of the ongoing FX liberalisation framework programme to be implemented by the NBU and the Ukrainian government during the next couple of years.