Two former lawmakers from the banned pro-Russian political party Opposition Platform —for Life were charged for allegedly masterminding a scheme that resulted in the theft of more than 30 ships from Ukraine's merchant fleet, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on Jan. 25.
The Opposition Platform —for Life party, founded by controversial lawmaker Yurii Boiko and pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedvhuk, was banned after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine for its pro-Russian stance. Boiko now leads its successor party in parliament.
Several of its former members and current lawmakers previously affiliated with the party have been charged with various crimes, including treason.
The SBU said that the plot to steal the ships was organized by two members of the party who previously served on the Odesa Regional Council and the former head of the state-owned Ukrainian Danube Shipping company.
According to the investigation, the conspirators are alleged to have illegally appropriated 32 ships from the company, valued at a combined total of Hr 80 million ($2.1 million).
The ships were allegedly transferred to the conspirators by contracts through a shell company. They were then taken out of Ukraine, stripped of parts, and reassembled into new vessels in an apparent move to disguise their origin.
The SBU claims that the conspirators then used the repurposed ships for their own commercial activities.
Authorities located all of the ships and seized them, identifying that their components came from the ships previously belonging to the state-owned company.
The three conspirators have been charged with several crimes, including fraud, and face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.