A previous corruption case in January, related to the purchase of army supplies at inflated prices, sparked a series of dismissals of senior government officials and judicial officials in the country, which has been facing a Russian invasion since February 2022.
Ukraine’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Vsevolod Knyazev has been arrested in a $2.7 million corruption case, the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said Tuesday. “The head of the Supreme Court has been detained,” Oleksandr Omelchenko, an official at the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, told a news conference. He also announced the arrest of another person whose identity he did not reveal.
“It is the biggest case” related to the judicial sector, said the director of the National Anti-Corruption Office, Simien Krivonos, referring to a “criminal group” that includes judges from the Supreme Court.
According to officials of the Anti-Corruption Office, the Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhivago, whom Ukraine is trying to return from France, agreed with a law firm to pay a bribe to judges in the Supreme Court until it “issues a decision” regarding this former deputy.
Apparently, Zhivago transferred $2.7 million to lawyers, and $1.8 million of this amount was to be paid to Supreme Court judges, and $900,000 to lawyers for their “mediation,” according to the Anti-Corruption Public Prosecution.
The prosecution explained that the businessman wanted the court to issue a decision allowing him to maintain the management of the shares of a mining company that he disputes with old shareholders.
And Zhivago, whose fortune the Ukrainian version of the American Forbes magazine estimates puts him in fifth place among the country’s richest people at $ 1.4 billion, owns the “Veraxpo” mining group, and has been on the list of people wanted by Ukraine for years for “financial irregularities.”
This former deputy is accused of embezzling $113 million from the Bank of Finance and Credit, which was declared bankrupt in 2015. On December 28, 2022, he was arrested in Courchevel, France, and placed in pretrial detention for a few days, then under judicial supervision since the beginning of January.
Fighting corruption is a key issue for Kiev getting approval to join the European Union.
And a previous corruption case in January, related to the purchase of army supplies at inflated prices, sparked a series of dismissals of senior government officials and judicial officials in the country, which has been facing a Russian invasion since February 2022.