eBay founder Pierre Omidyar contributes funds to Ukraine opposition groups

Omidyar and the Ukraine unrest
Published: Mar. 6, 2014 at 9:12 AM HST
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Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's richest man is best known here for his charitable donations and global peace initiatives.

But now, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is raising eyebrows for funding groups tied to the political unrest in Ukraine.

PandoDaily, a Silicon Valley website, says that Omidyar's charitable arm is co-funding revolutionary groups with the help of U.S. aid.

"He was by far the largest entity investing in these NGOs," said Mark Ames, senior editor at PandoDaily.

"The ones backed and co-funded by Omidyar, were key to organizing the protests and getting it running."

According to its website, the Omidyar Network provided more than $1 million in grants to New Citizen, a think tank tied to Oleh Rybachuk, the nation's former Deputy Prime Minister.

Ames cited a Financial Times article that said Rybachuk's "New Citizen" NGO campaign played a big role in getting the protest up and running.

But Omidyar's representatives say there was no political motive in its awards to New Citizen.

"This investment is part of our government transparency initiative and was made to amplify the voices of Ukrainian citizens and promote open and accountable government," the Omidyar Network said in a statement.

Omidyar is the world's 162nd richest man, with net worth valued by Forbes magazine over $8 billion.

He's best known in Hawaii for supporting Punahou School, solar power on Oahu and organic farms in Waianae.

This isn't Omidyar's first foray into international causes.

His firm has invested more than $40 million into government transparency issues around the globe over the last several years.

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