Yatsenyuk and allies of Poroshenko, Avakov targeted by corruption investigations

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, President Petro Poroshenko’s chief of staff Borys Lozhkin and an ally of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov have been targeted by investigators and whistleblowers in Ukraine and abroad this week.

The reports come as Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk and Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin are accused of failing to investigate corruption among incumbent and former top officials and applying selective justice.

Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, went so far on Sept. 24 as to say that “corrupt actors within the Prosecutor General’s Office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform.”

Kyiv’s Pechersky District Court has ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office to start an investigation against Yatsenyuk on suspicion of getting a $3 million bribe for appointing Volodymyr Ishchuk as chief executive of state-owned Radio Broadcasting, Radio Communications and Television Company, Serhiy Kaplin, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, wrote on Sept. 26. He posted a scanned copy of the court order.

The Pechersky District Court was not available for comment.

Olga Lappo, a spokeswoman for Yatsenyuk, said by phone she could not immediately comment on the issue.

Kaplin had earlier filed a complaint against the Prosecutor General’s Office for refusing to start the investigation.

Yatsenyuk’s allies have also come under fire.

Earlier this year Ihor Kotvytsky, a lawmaker from Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party, transferred $40 million to an offshore company based in Panama through Ukraine’s state-owned Oshchadbank, Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, wrote on his blog on Sept. 25.

Kotvytsky was not available by phone or e-mail, while the People’s Front’s press office could not be reached by phone.

Kotvytsky did not initially include this amount in his 2014 declaration but changed his mind and included it half a year after the deadline for declarations expired, Leshchenko said, posting scanned copies of what he said were the original and corrected declarations.

Leshchenko said, citing unnamed “high-ranking” sources, that the money could belong to Avakov. He claimed that Kotvytsky was Avakov’s “wallet” and business partner.

Avakov dismissed the accusations on Sept. 26.

“Leshchenko is a sophisticated manipulator who serves (Russian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin),” Avakov claimed.

This is not the first time Yatsenyuk and his associates are accused of graft.

In April Mykola Hordienko, head of the State Financial Inspection Service, was fired after accusing Yatsenyuk of corruption, while Ihor Shevchenko was dismissed as ecology and natural resources minister in July after claiming that the prime minister was derailing his anti-corruption efforts.

Yatsenyuk allies Mykola Martynenko, Serhiy Chebotar and Serhiy Pashynsky have also become targets of corruption accusations.

Another scandal has erupted over Lozhkin, Poroshenko’s chief of staff.

Austria’s anti-corruption prosecutors are investigating a suspected money laundering scheme linked to Lozhkin, the Austrian News Agency reported on Sept. 24, citing a spokesman for the country’s anti-corruption prosecution office.

“Neither Ukraine nor Austrian law enforcement agencies have asked me for information on investigations regarding myself,” Lozhkin told the news agency. He also told the Liga.net news site that he was prepared to testify in the case.

The Austrian investigation targets three Ukrainian nationals, the spokesman said without naming them.

The spokesman did not say whether Lozhkin would be called as a witness or a suspect and did not specify the period of suspected money laundering.

Serhiy Leshchenko wrote on his blog on Sept. 24, citing sources at the presidential administration, that the case was linked to Lozhkin’s sale of his UMH media group to Serhiy Kurchenko, an ally of disgraced former President Viktor Yanukovych, in 2013. Kurzhenko, a major suspect in corruption investigations, fled Ukraine after the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.

The sale was carried out using offshore firms and accounts at Austrian banks, the sources said.

Austrian prosecutors sent a request for assistance in the investigation to Ukraine Prosecutor General’s Office several weeks ago but Shokin “has kept it secret,” Leshchenko wrote.

Andriy Demartino, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, was not available for comment.

Poroshenko’s allies have also been targeted by anti-corruption activists and investigative journalists before.

Grigorishin, a business partner of Poroshenko, has come under fire for allegedly winning a procurement tender in an allegedly illegal way and supplying transformers at below-market prices, according to a Radio Svoboda investigation.

In another case, Konstyantyn Likarchuk, deputy head of the State Fiscal Service, accused Roman Nasirov, who had been a lawmaker from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc before becoming head of the agency, of restoring Yanukovych-era corruption schemes. Likarchuk was fired earlier this month.

From – http://www.kyivpost.com/content/kyiv-post-plus/yatsenyuk-allies-of-poroshenko-avakov-targeted-by-corruption-investigations-398743.html

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