Ukrainian Antimonopoly Committee office raided by PGO

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office is raiding the office of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, the authorized government official at the committee Svitlana Panaiotidi has said.

"The Prosecutor General's Office [has been at the site] since 7:30 a.m. [It said] either open the doors or [they] will knock them down. A search is under way at the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. No one is allowed inside. There are masks, weapons," Panaiotidi wrote on her Facebook page.

Panaiotidi said later that committee employees were standing outside, but she was allowed to enter the building.

She made it understood that the searches were being conducted as part of an investigation into a tax evasion scheme and steps to take a large amount of money out of Ukraine through the Megapolis Ukraine LLC, which is currently known as TEDIS Ukraine. She wrote: "TEDIS. Pechersky [District] court. Ruling."

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said earlier on Friday that prosecutors had exposed a tax evasion scheme and arrangements to take out a large amount of funds, including with the purpose of financing terrorism, through Megapolis Ukraine LLC.

"Acting together with the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office and with the support of National Police divisions, the economy department of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office uncovered a major tax evasion scheme and illegal steps to take billions of hryvnias out of the country, including for the purposes of financing terrorism. A pretrial investigation has established that, since 2012, the owners of Megapolis Ukraine (currently TEDIS Ukraine) tobacco products distribution monopoly have in fact included Russian citizen Kesayev, who has been under the NSDC [National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine] sanctions in the form of a ban from transferring funds from Ukraine abroad," he said.

Under Kesayev's influence, people who coordinate all of their decisions with board members of Russia's Degtyaryov Plant have been appointed to key positions in the TEDIS Ukraine company, he said.

"A total of UAH 2.5 billion was taken out [of Ukraine] via transit firms' accounts in 2015-2017, despite the ban imposed by the NSDC and the National Bank of Ukraine," Lutsenko said, adding that the company had also received support from certain government agencies in order to maintain its monopoly status.

About 1,000 law enforcement officers are currently carrying out the searches and taking other urgent measures as part of the investigation, he said.