April 22, 2024

Ukrainian authorities have conducted a series of anti-corruption raids across the country, uncovering stashes of cash as well as luxury watches and cars.

Among those caught up in the investigations is the acting head of the Kyiv tax authority, who was allegedly part of a scheme to overlook 45 billion Ukrainian hryvnia ($1.2 billion) in unpaid taxes.

On Wednesday, the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) said that it had found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, as well as luxury watches and cars, at the tax chief’s residence. CNN is attempting to reach that individual for comment.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said the raids were part of an effort to combat what they described as “the internal enemy” in the country.

“Every criminal who has the audacity to harm Ukraine, especially in times of war, must clearly understand that we will handcuff his hands,” said Vasyl Maliuk, head of the SBU, in a statement.

The raids come as President Volodymyr Zelensky said his government is working on “new reforms” that will make the country “more human, transparent and effective” as he prepares to meet European Union officials on Friday for talks on Ukraine’s possible accession to the bloc.

Anti-corruption measures are “an important dimension of the EU accession process,” said Ana Pisonero, a spokesperson for the European Commission, on January 24.

Various raids took place on Wednesday including a search of former interior minister Arsen Avakov’s property, which was tied to an investigation into the January 18 helicopter crash that killed 14 people.

Avakov was interior minister when the ‘Super Puma’ ES-225 helicopter involved in the crash was purchased from France as part of a contract signed in 2018. On Wednesday, he denied any wrongdoing and said that the contracts were approved by parliament.

As is standard, Ukrainian authorities have said they are investigating all possible causes of the helicopter crash, including pilot error, technical malfunction and sabotage.

CREDIT:  and , CNN

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