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Top Defense Ministry official arrested in embezzlement case

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 22, 2023 10:03 PM 2 min read
Investigators search documents in a case relating to the embezzlement of artillery shell funds, on Dec. 22, 2023. (Security Service of Ukraine)
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A senior official in the Defense Ministry has been detained over his suspected involvement in using an artillery shell contract to embezzle Hr 1.5 billion ($40 million), the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on Dec. 22.

Recent months saw upheavals in the leadership of Ukraine's defense sector, intended to stamp out corruption following several military procurement scandals.

Investigators believe that in December 2022, the official "signed an agreement with a special exporting company for the purchase of a wholesale batch of artillery shells" for the Ukrainian army.

The Defense Ministry's Defense Procurement Agency then concluded a contract for the same shells with the same manufacturer for a lower cost, as it did not use intermediaries.

The new contract "significantly shortened the delivery time and reduced its cost," the SBU said.

The suspect "unjustifiably extended the previous agreement with the special exporter company," ignoring the contract from the Defense Procurement Agency, and ensured that almost Hr 1.5 billion ($40 million) was transferred to the account of a foreign intermediary.

"The person involved has been removed from the performance of official duties," and the Defense Ministry is taking measures to return the appropriated funds to the state budget, the SBU said.

Investigators searched the man's property and found evidence, including documents, relating to the case. The suspect could face up to 15 years in prison.

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