Ukraine detains high-ranking defense ministry official over $40 million embezzlement charges. The embezzled funds is linked to an artillery shells contract, as reported by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).
The SBU alleges that the official initially signed an agreement with a specialized export company to procure a large batch of artillery shells in December of the previous year. Subsequently, the same manufacturer signed a more advantageous contract for the supply, eliminating intermediaries. This streamlined the delivery time and reduced product costs, according to the SBU.
The defense official purportedly extended the original, more expensive contract, diverting funds amounting to $40 million to the accounts of an affiliated foreign intermediary firm, as per the SBU. The security agency claims to have discovered documents validating the illicit activity, and if found guilty, the official could face up to 15 years in prison.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has stated that it is taking actions to recover the embezzled funds. Illarion Pavliuk, Head of the Press and Information Department at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, clarified the contract was payment-without-delivery. Legal experts are exploring options to terminate the contract and reclaim the misappropriated funds.
In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, citing the necessity for “new approaches” amidst corruption scandals involving Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. Rustem Umerov, the former people’s deputy of Ukraine, assumed the position as his successor.
Addressing concerns about corruption, Zelensky discussed the issue during his visit to Washington DC, meeting with US Senators. The matter has gained heightened importance after the EU agreed to initiate membership talks with Ukraine.