Already 23 Ukrainian tax officials under arrest
Law-enforcement agents have arrested 23 tax administration officials throughout Ukraine in a massive anti-corruption operation, Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios has said.
"Some 23 high-ranking officials are already in custody," Matios said during a briefing at Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv) on Wednesday.
Law enforcers are currently conducting a special operation as part of inquiry into the Income and Tax Ministry of Ukraine under the former income and tax minister, Oleksandr Klymenko, he said.
In his words, search and seizure operations are currently being conducted involving top officials of tax authorities in a number of regions, "at all tax offices where enterprises of the real sector of the economy were sent."
Matios said helicopters would transport those arrested in southern and eastern regions to Kyiv, where they will be arraigned by prosecutors and charged.
"We came up with the algorithm for holding to account those individuals who organized and profited from this. The real sector of the economy suffered from their activities," Matios said, noting this was only the "first wave" arrests.
"During the course of the criminal investigation we foresee detaining and charging employees of the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO), Ukraine's SBU Security Service and employees of the state tax administration. War would not have been possible without this three-headed hydra in government. The state was robbed of billions of hryvnia, which enriched individuals who are still living quietly in Ukraine," Ukraine's military prosecutor said.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who was present at the briefing, said some of the suspects are seeking to evade arrest.
"The courts now will become the battleground. I am sure that huge amounts of money will be spent in order to prevent these officials from [disgraced ex President Viktor] Yanukovych's era from being held to account. But, I hope investigators worked well. There will be even more proof," Avakov said.
Matios said some of top suspects being brought to Kyiv are from Dnipropetrovsk region, Kharkiv region and Odesa, including the current SBU chief and his "overseer" responsible for the business of [Serhiy] Kurchenko, Lt. General Denisiuk.