Record attempt to bribe chiefs of Ukraine's anti-graft agencies lands suspects behind bars

23:50, 15 June 2020
Ukraine
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Photo from NABU

The High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine on Monday, June 15, ruled to remand in custody for 60 days another suspect in last week's foiled attempt to hand a $5 million bribe to heads of anti-corruption bodies for shutting a criminal case against ex-ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky, who is also president of Burisma Group. The suspect in question is first deputy chief of the State Tax Service's Main Directorate in Kyiv, Mykola Iliashenko.

The senior tax official could only be bailed out if he posts a stunning UAH 84 million (which is over $3 million).

Another suspect involved in the scheme, whom the court also ruled to remand in custody, is Andriy Kicha, a person who earlier was a Burisma official before starting to work as a lawyer, Ukrainian media reported. Kicha was shortly bailed out for over UAH 40 million, Hromadske reported. It remains unclear, who has posted the bail.

As UNIAN reported earlier, on June 12, three persons were detained upon the attempt to hand a $5 million bribe to the leadership of the National Anti-corruption Bureau and Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office for closing the criminal proceeding targeting ex-ecology minister and president of Burisma Group Mykola Zlochevsky.

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The case concerns his alleged complicity in embezzlement of the NBU's stabilization loan, which was issued to a bank controlled by businessman Serhiy Kurchenko, and the subsequent laundering of these funds.

Currently, the investigation in this case has been suspended, while Zlochevsky remains on the wanted list.

Law enforcers detained three persons in what appears to have been a sting raid.

Burisma said in a statement it had nothing to do with the matter, Reuters reported.

It did not respond to a request for comment from the company's founder Mykola Zlochevsky.

The Ukrainian company was thrust into the global spotlight last year in the impeachment inquiry into whether U.S. President Donald Trump improperly pressured Kyiv into opening a case against his rival Joe Biden for the November election race.

"Let's put an end to this once and for all. Biden Jr. and Biden Sr. do not appear in this particular proceeding," Nazar Kholodnytsky, head of anti-corruption investigations at the prosecution service, told Saturday's briefing.

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The country's former prosecutor general told Reuters in June that an audit he commissioned while in office of thousands of old case files had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden while he worked for Burisma.

Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014, one of several high-profile names to join what the private company said was an attempt to strengthen corporate governance.

The Bidens deny any wrongdoing and Democrats said Trump was trying to help his re-election prospects.

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