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Businessman charged with bribing Supreme Court head

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 3, 2023 8:24 PM 2 min read
Kostyantyn Zhevago leaves after his extradition hearing before the investigating chamber of the Court of Appeal of Chambery, central-eastern France, on March 16, 2023. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)
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The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) reported on Aug. 3 that Ukrainian businessman Kostyantyn Zhevago had been charged with bribing Vsevolod Kniazev, former head of the Supreme Court.

The billionaire and ex-member of parliament, who lives in France, is suspected of bribing Knyazev and other Supreme Court judges in exchange for a decision in his favor, the NABU said.

Earlier this year, Zhevago transferred $2.7 million to his lawyer, of which $1.8 million was intended to be the bribe for the Supreme Court, and the rest was for the legal advisor's "mediation services," according to the NABU.

The lawyer arranged negotiations with the judges "under the guise of legal services," the NABU said.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled in Zhevago's favor in a business case. However, in May, the NABU uncovered the scheme.

Kniaziev was charged with corruption on May 16.

On May 17, Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) reported to be working alongside the Agency for Investigation and Management of Assets to retrieve more than $113 million in frozen assets from a Swiss account belonging to the oligarch.

In 2019, Zhevago was charged with embezzling and laundering $113 million at Finance & Credit Bank. In 2021, he was put on the Interpol wanted list.

In December 2022, the billionaire was arrested in France at Ukraine's request, and later released on bail for 1 million euros ($1.1 million).

A French court determined in March that Zhevago should not be extradited.

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.

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