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Ukraine says corrupt officers stole $40 million meant to purchase arms for the struggle with Russia

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Authorities say 5 individuals have been charged, with one particular person detained whereas making an attempt to cross the border. If discovered responsible, they resist 12 years in jail.

Workers from a Ukrainian arms agency conspired with defence ministry officers to embezzle virtually $40 million (€36.82 million) earmarked to purchase 100,000 mortar shells for the struggle with Russia, Ukraine’s safety service reported.

The SBU stated late Saturday that 5 individuals have been charged, with one particular person detained whereas making an attempt to cross the Ukrainian border. If discovered responsible, they resist 12 years in jail.

The investigation comes as Kyiv makes an attempt to clamp down on corruption in a bid to hurry up its membership within the European Union and NATO. Officers from each blocs have demanded widespread anti-graft reforms earlier than Kyiv can be part of them.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2019, lengthy earlier than Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Each the president and his aides have portrayed the latest firings of prime officers, notably that of Ivan Bakanov, former head of the State Safety Service, in July 2022, as proof of their efforts to crack down on graft.

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Safety officers say that the present investigation dates again to August 2022, when officers signed a contract for artillery shells value 1.5 billion hryvnias (€36.45 million) with arms agency Lviv Arsenal.

After receiving cost, firm staff had been alleged to switch the funds to a enterprise registered overseas, which might then ship the ammunition to Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the products had been by no means delivered and the cash was as a substitute despatched to numerous accounts in Ukraine and the Balkans, investigators stated. Ukraine’s prosecutor common says the funds have since been seized and will likely be returned to the nation’s defence funds.

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