Five Ukrainian arms company employees face charges of conspiring to embezzle $40 million in funds intended to provide munitions for the nation’s defense.
With tens of billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars pouring into the notoriously corrupt Ukraine, is it any wonder there is rampant fraud and diversion of funds?
The New York Post reported the scheme was unraveled by Ukraine’s security agency, the SBU. The five who stand accused are believed to have colluded with Defense Ministry officials to redirect funding intended to procure 100,000 mortar shells for the military.
One of the conspirators was nabbed attempting to flee the war-torn country. If found guilty, each of the five faces up to 12 years in prison.
One U.S. lawmaker asked a very important question. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) wondered if the conspiracy was an “isolated incident or the tip of the iceberg.”
Another, Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), also referred to the plot’s discovery as the “tip of the iceberg.”
Ukrainian defence officials and corporate leaders sought to steal about $40 million through a fraudulent arms procurement scheme, according to the country's main intelligence and security agency.https://t.co/IRp9bjwLo0
— News24 🇿🇦 (@News24) January 28, 2024
Congressional Republicans for months have questioned the wisdom of funneling untraceable billions into Ukraine for its fight against Russia. The Pentagon readily admits that much of what has been shipped to the nation is unaccounted for.
Kyiv is under increasing pressure to clean up corruption even as it attempts to join the European Union and NATO. Both bodies insist that strong anti-graft measures be enacted to counter the rampant financial crime that plagues the nation.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform. He recently touted the firing of several high-profile officials, including former head of the State Security Service Ivan Bakanov, as evidence that his efforts are working.
The latest conspiracy allegedly began in August 2022. The contract for artillery shells was signed with weapons supplier Lviv Arsenal, and the funds were to be transferred so the artillery would be delivered to Ukraine’s military.
Investigators charge that the shells were never delivered. Instead, the funds went to various accounts both in Ukraine and abroad.
The nation’s prosecutor general said the money has been recovered and will be reapplied to the country’s defense.