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Be careful what you wish for Ukraine’s State Security Service raids multiple officials’ homes and discovers evidence of corruption, including hand-written dreams of mink coats and more
On January 31, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned about upcoming “staffing changes” in the Ukrainian government. The following day, Ukraine’s State Security Service and other law-enforcement agencies conducted a series of searches targeting prominent officials and businesspeople suspected of corruption. Among their discoveries were “manifesting” wish lists — and loads of embezzled money.
Ukraine’s Economic Security Bureau and State Security agents searched the home of the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky. The Ukrainian media connects the search to a fraud investigation focusing on Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta, two petroleum companies nationalized by Ukraine last November. The investigators believe that around $1 billion worth of petroleum products may have been diverted to companies affiliated with the corporate leadership of Ukranafta and Ukrtatnafta. (Last fall, the Ukrainian media wrote about another search in Kolomoysky’s home.)
Another search took place today at the home of former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov in connection with the Brovary helicopter accident that killed 14 people, including Ukraine’s then-minister of the interior, Denys Monastyrsky. According to Avakov himself, the Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma helicopter that crashed in Brovary had been purchased from France as part of a batch of 55 helicopters ordered by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. Avakov claims that the Security Service examined the purchasing contracts totaling 550 million euros but found nothing wrong with the acquisitions.
Ukraine’s Security Service also searched the home of Vadim Stolar, a Verkhovna Rada deputy from the outlawed Opposition Platform — For Life party. The exact reason for the search is unknown. Ukrainska Pravda previously reported that Stolar and his business partner, Ukrainian deputy Ihor Abramovych, had been living in France since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In early January, they returned to Kyiv, attended a Rada meeting, and tried to leave again. Abramovych was able to leave for Monaco. Stolar tried to take a flight to Dubai on January 20–21 but wasn’t permitted to leave the country. On January 24, Volodymyr Zelensky banned Ukrainian state officials from foreign travel, except on official business.
The State Investigation Bureau searched the home of Oksana Datiy, acting head of Kyiv’s tax authority in connection with allegations of embezzling from the state budget to the tune of $1.2 billion. Datiy’s hand-written personal wish lists have caused a social media furor. On various notepads, she assiduously recorded dreams of acquiring such treasures as a mink coat, vacations in London and Maldives, a Hermes bag, a luxury Breguet watch for her birthday, a million dollars — and, of course, higher and better-paid official appointments.
Another search took place at the home of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the former head of the Defense Ministry’s purchasing department. Khmelnytsky is suspected of embezzling $2.9 million, as well as signing a fraudulent contract that involved spending $3.3 million on substandard bulletproof vests.
Corruption allegations were also presented to former Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov and Volodymyr Tereshchenko, the former deputy director of the state-run defense export company Promoboronexport. Shapovalov is suspected of a scheme that left multiple Ukrainian army units without protective gear. The total value of the missing equipment is around $27 million. Shapovalov was fired from his post a week ago, after the Ukrainian news outlet Zerkalo published an investigation that claimed the Ukrainian military had been purchasing provisions at double and triple the market prices. Volodymyr Tereshchenko is charged with embezzling $1.3 million from state funds.
The State Investigation Bureau also suspects former Ukraine Energy Minister Ihor Nasalik of fraud in the amount of $40.6 million. Ukrainska Pravda reports that money was allegedly diverted to corporations connected with the fertilizer magnate Dmytro Firtash.
On January 31, President Zelensky announced upcoming “staffing changes” in the Ukrainian government. In turn, Verkhovna Rada deputy Davyd Arakhamia predicted the removal of all the top Ukrainian customs officials. Meanwhile, Forbes Ukraine cites an anonymous Rada deputy in a report that acting Customs head Vyacheslav Demchenko and two of his deputies, Oleksandr Shchutsky and Ruslan Cherkassky, have been removed from office.
In early January, Ukraine’s State Security Service claimed to have exposed an embezzlement scheme involving Ukrainian grain exports. Ten different officials, including those at the Odesa Customs Authority, were found to be complicit.
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