Ukraine says it has uncovered mass arms procurement fraud

Ukraine says it has uncovered mass arms procurement fraud – Yahoo News

(Portal) – Ukraine's security service SBU said on Saturday it had uncovered a corruption scheme in the country's military's arms purchases worth the equivalent of about $40 million.

The announcement of a mass procurement scam, confirmed by Ukraine's Defense Ministry, will have a huge impact in a country reeling from Russia's nearly two-year invasion.

The fight against endemic corruption remains an important issue as Ukraine advances its push for European Union membership.

The SBU said an investigation “exposed Defense Ministry officials and managers of arms supplier Lviv Arsenal who stole nearly 1.5 billion hryvnia while purchasing grenades.”

“According to the investigation, former and current senior officials of the Ministry of Defense as well as heads of affiliated companies are involved in the embezzlement.”

The embezzlement involved the purchase of 100,000 mortar shells for the military.

The SBU said that a contract for the grenades was concluded with the Lviv Arsenal in August 2022 – six months after the start of the war – and payment was made in advance, with some funds transferred abroad.

However, weapons were never provided, the statement said, and some funds were then transferred to other foreign accounts.

The statement said five people had been served “suspicion notices” – the first stage of a Ukrainian legal process – both at the ministry and at the arms supplier. A suspect was arrested while trying to cross the Ukrainian border, it said.

Corruption within the military is a particularly sensitive issue in Ukraine as it tries to maintain public morale during the war and make its case for joining the 27-nation EU.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was fired last September over various corruption cases, despite having a good reputation as a representative of Ukraine in its talks with Western allies.

Although he was not accused of personally engaging in corruption, the military he administered was implicated in several cases, in one over the supply of food to troops and in another over the procurement of appropriate clothing for military personnel.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Maria Starkova; Editing by Andrea Ricci)