Ukraine ex-finance minister to oversee Puerto Rico crisis

A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances amid a dire economic crisis announced Thursday that it appointed Ukraine’s former finance minister as its executive director.

The board’s chairman said Natalie Jaresko served during a critical time in Ukraine’s history from 2014 to 2016 as it faced a deep recession.

“Ukraine’s situation three years ago_like Puerto Rico’s today_was near catastrophic, but she worked with stakeholders to bring needed reforms that restored confidence, economic vitality and reinvestment in the country and its citizens. That’s exactly what Puerto Rico needs today,” said chairman Jose Carrion.

He said Jaresko was born in Chicago to Ukrainian immigrants and was chosen out of a group more than 300 candidates during a four-month search. She previously worked at the U.S. State Department and also co-founded private equity fund manager Horizon Capital, where she served as CEO. Jaresko said in a statement that she will pursue a decisive and successful recovery for Puerto Rico.

“I realize this goal may seem daunting if not impossible to many, but I accepted this position because I am optimistic we can achieve it together,” she said.

Jaresko will be paid $625,000 a year, an amount Carrion acknowledged would likely cause an outcry on an island mired in a decade-long economic slump and seeking to restructure some $70 billion in public debt. He said Jaresko will commute from the Ukraine once a month until June, with all flights and hotel stays to be paid for by Puerto Rico’s government.

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