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Polaris of Enlightenment

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Ukrainian corruption scandal – 40 million USD embezzled

The war in Ukraine

Published 29 January 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Ukrainian soldiers practicing with mortars.

Ukrainian defense authorities ordered and paid in advance for 100 000 mortar shells – but the weapons never arrived, and funds were transferred to foreign accounts.

Now, several high-ranking defense ministry officials and executives at the arms manufacturer Lviv Arsenal are being investigated for embezzling around $40 million.

According to the SBU security service, in August 2022, defense officials signed a contract to buy 100 000 mortar shells – and the payment was also made in advance, with part of the money also transferred to foreign accounts. However, no weapons were ever delivered and it is highly unclear where they actually went.

A major impediment to Ukraine’s attempts to move closer to the EU has been the sheer scale of corruption that the country suffers from, with officials, government employees and oligarchs often accused of systematically stealing and embezzling money from taxpayers or foreign donors intended for the country’s reinforcement.

According to the SBU, this is also the case this time, and the five suspects are either officials of the Ministry of Defense or managers of the arms supplier Lviv Arsenal who allegedly “stole nearly 1.5 billion hryvnias in the purchase of shells”.

According to the investigation, former and current high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Defence and heads of affiliated companies are involved in the embezzlement“, they further note.

Attempted to flee

Although the contract was concluded in late summer 2022, not a single artillery shell has actually been delivered to Ukraine so far. One of the suspects was also arrested while trying to leave the country, but is now in custody.

According to the country’s prosecutor general, the stolen funds have been seized and will be returned to the defense budget.

President Zelensky promised during his election campaign in 2019 that the fight against corruption was one of his most important priorities and in 2022 the country was ranked 116 out of 180 in a corruption index established by the campaign and research organization Transparency International.

Although the problems seem to persist, some high-profile efforts have been made to address the most obvious problems, such as the dismissal of all officials responsible for military recruitment in Ukraine as recently as August, following reports of widespread cheating where people were allowed to avoid military service without valid reasons.

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