Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) announced on Jan. 27 the discovery of a corruption scheme related to the procurement of almost 100,000 mortar shells, amounting to nearly $40 million.
While Ukraine strives to attain European Union membership and sustain morale as the full-out war with Russia approaches its third year, the ongoing struggle to eliminate widespread corruption continues to be a significant challenge.
The SBU said the investigation had "exposed officials of the Ministry of Defense and managers of arms supplier Lviv Arsenal, who stole nearly Hr 1.5 billion in the purchase of shells."
The individuals implicated in the embezzlement include both former and current high-ranking officials from the Defense Ministry, as well as heads of associated companies.
A contract for shells was secured with Lviv Arsenal in August 2022, six months into the full-scale invasion, according to the SBU. The payment was made upfront, including the transfer of funds abroad. However, no arms were delivered, and a portion of the funds was subsequently moved to other foreign accounts.
According to the statement, "notices of suspicion" in the initial phase of Ukrainian legal proceedings have been issued to five individuals, encompassing both the ministry and the arms supplier. One suspect was reportedly detained while attempting to cross the Ukrainian border.