Ukraine judiciary chief detained in multi-million-dollar graft probe
The head of the Ukrainian Supreme Court has been detained in a $2.7 million corruption probe as Kiev seeks acceptance from the EU.
Ukrainian law enforcement officers detained on Tuesday the head of the Ukrainian Supreme Court in a $2.7 million corruption investigation as the eastern European state seeks to appease the European Union through anti-corruption laws because it wants to be admitted into the bloc.
"The head of the supreme court has been detained," said Oleksandr Omelchenko, a prosecutor with Ukraine's anti-corruption prosecutor's office.
The official revealed that two people had been detained as part of the probe, though he refused to elaborate on who the other individual was.
According to the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), Semen Kryvonos, the case in question is the "biggest ever" to implicate the judiciary.
Anti-graft officials claim that Ukrainian billionaire Kostiantyn Zhevago offered the bribe to court officials, with a law firm acting as an intermediary.
Moreover, they explained that Zhevago transferred some $2.7 million to the lawyers, $1.8 million of which were paid to justices in the Supreme Court and $900,000 went to the lawyers for their "services".
Zhevago, according to the officials, sought to bribe the court to issue a ruling that would allow him to maintain his hold on the shares of a mining company amid a dispure with former shareholders.
The billionaire is a former member of the Ukrainian parliament and one of the country's richest men, and he currently resides in France as Kiev attempts to extradite him.
He had been detained in France in December on suspicion of money laundering and embezzling funds linked to his banking venture in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late January dismissed a group of ministers and administration officials, banning them from leaving the country following corruption scandals that emerged, including senior members of the defense ministry and top figures in his team.
The Ukrainian government announced that six ministers and five regional governors were dismissed, including Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of Zelensky’s office, and Viacheslav Shapovalov, a deputy Defense Minister.
Commenting on the issue, US Defense Department spokesperson Patrick Ryder saw the Ukrainian President's actions as an "internal matter".
Ryder also denied that the US government was aware of the corruption charges, even if they had a negative impact on the course of the battles there.
A day later, the Ukrainian government sacked further officials in connection with corruption charges.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said as quoted by AFP that an official in charge of army procurement, Bogdan Khmelnytsky, had been dismissed after being suspended in December.
The media has accused the Defense Ministry of signing food contracts at costs two or three times more than the current market rate for basic foodstuffs.
It is worth noting that corruption swept Ukraine long before the beginning of the war. Today, corruption plagues Kiev especially as hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and aid stream into the country, and the cost of reconstruction activities is anticipated to be in the billions. Furthermore, many have been warning that foreign weapons being supplied to Ukraine are sold on the black market, most notably in Africa.
To read more about corruption Ukraine, mainly under Zelensky, check out: Zelensky's fall to grace in the West