Ukraine prosecutors launch anti-graft crackdown on former tax officials

By bne IntelliNews May 25, 2017

Ukrainian anti-corruption agencies, specifically, military prosecutors and the National Police, have conducted over 400 raids as part of a massive anti-corruption crackdown on former tax officials.

The action comes in the wake of the high-profile detention of tax service chief Roman Nasirov in early March on suspicion of corruption. Nasirov was released from custody in Kyiv two weeks later after his wife posted bail of UAH100mn (€3.5mn). 

“Over 1,700 National Police workers and about 500 military prosecutors are now conducting 454 searches in 15 regions in the country,” Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoliy Matios told journalists on May 24. “Detentions are underway - detainees will be brought by plane to Kyiv.”

According to the prosecutor, law enforcers that day conducted a special operation as part of inquiry into former heads of regional branches of the Ukrainian Income and Tax Ministry that were allegedly involved in illegal tax schemes associated with former minister Oleksandr Klymenko.

“Klymenko was already prosecuted for illegal refund of UAH3bn (€101mn) of VAT,” Matios added. “At the moment, an operation is taking place against the then heads and their deputies in all 15 regional departments of the ministry ... who were directly involved in the organisation of a tax fraud, which resulted in the state falling short of ... UAH97bn (€3.280bn).”

Three years after mass protests ousted Ukraines ex-president Viktor Yanukovych and his allies for running a kleptocratic administration, the country’s law enforcers have yet to bring a single charge against any high-level official of the former regime. 

Recently,  Interpol removed Yanukovych, his son Oleksandr, and some high-level former officials in the regime deposed in February 2014 from the agency's wanted list. Shortly after the move, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, refused to support the imposition of  personal sanctions against Yanukovych, his son, and 18 other ex-officials. Kyiv-based experts attribute the result to a tangle of powerful vested political and business interests in the country.

Anti-corruption activists also fear the case against suspended tax head Nasirov could also be buried despite allegations that he participated in shady gas sales that cost the state budget tens of millions of dollars.

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