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Law enforcement searches Mukachevo mayor, officials allegedly involved in corruption

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 10, 2023 3:41 PM 2 min read
Officers of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) conduct searches at the properties of one of Mukachevo officials allegedly involved in a large-scale corruption scheme. (SBU/Telegram)
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Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reported on Oct. 10 of conducting searches in connection with a $2.7 million corruption scheme in the Mukachevo City Council in the western Zakarpattia Oblast.

The searches took place at the offices and properties of Mukachevo Mayor Andrii Baloha, the head of the Mukachevo District Council Mykhailo Lano, and some local companies, among other places, Hromadske news outlet wrote, citing its source in law enforcement.

The corruption case involves local officials selling a plot of land on the territory of the city's sports complex at a below-market price, according to the SBU and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) conducting the investigation.

Hromadske's source said the sports facility in question is Avanhard Stadium in central Mukachevo.

Officials accused of using war as pretext for hiding ill-gotten wealth
As Ukrainian soldiers are defending their homeland on the front line, officials in the rear are accused of using the war as a pretext for hiding their wealth. They are able to do so because one of Ukraine’s main anti-corruption tools, the asset declaration system, has been effectively eliminated.

Last summer, the Mukachevo City Council put three hectares of communal land around the stadium up for auction, setting the price at ten times lower than the land's actual value, according to the source.

The land plot was eventually sold to a company allegedly belonging to Lano.

According to preliminary data by the SBU, the Ukrainian state lost around Hr 100 million ($2.7 million) due to the corruption scheme.

Baloha is not the first Ukrainian mayor to be alleged of corruption while in office.

On Oct. 9, Sumy Mayor Oleksandr Lysenko was removed from his post following accusations of accepting a bribe of Hr 1.4 million ($38,000). In March, Ukraine's High Anti-Corruption Court sentenced Poltava Mayor Oleksandr Mamai to a five-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of abuse of office and forgery.

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