Home of Ukrainian oil tycoon raided in anti-corruption purge | Russia-Ukraine war News
Ukraine takes a tough stance on corruption as it continues its negotiations to join the European Union.
Ukrainian authorities have raided the home of a powerful billionaire in what an ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky has described as a massive war-time crackdown on corruption that will change the country.
Igor Kolomoisky owned shares in two oil companies, Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta, which were arrested last November due to martial law after the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said it uncovered the theft of more than $1 billion.
“Every criminal who has the audacity to harm Ukraine, especially in war conditions, must clearly understand that we will put handcuffs on his hands,” SBU head Vasily Malyuk said on the SBU Telegram channel.
Separate raids were carried out on the tax office and the home of Arsen Avakov, who led the Ukrainian police as interior minister from 2014 to 2021.
The SBU said it was cracking down on “people whose actions damage the security of the state in various areas,” and promised more details in the coming days.
Kolomoisky, who is currently facing a U.S. fraud case, has been at the center of corruption allegations and litigation for years that Western donors say must be resolved if Kyiv continues to receive support.
Many also wondered if Zelenskiy would take action against Kolomoisky after rising to fame in a sitcom on his TV channel.
David Arakhamia, a senior member of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, confirmed the search of Kolomoisky’s home, as well as individual raids.
Arakhamia said that the entire leadership of the Customs Service should be fired, and notices were given to high-ranking Defense Ministry officials that they were suspects in the case.
“The country will change during the war. If someone is not ready for change, then the state itself will come and help change,” Arakhamia wrote in the Telegram messenger.
Later, a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office said that “wartime corruption is looting.”
Ukraine’s long-standing fight against corruption has become vital as Russia’s invasion has made Kyiv heavily dependent on Western support and needs reforms to join the 27-country EU.
The raids are taking place days before a European Union summit where Ukraine is expected to take concrete steps to join the 27-member bloc.
In his address on Tuesday evening, Zelenskiy discussed further anti-corruption measures that will come into effect.
“We are preparing new reforms in Ukraine. Reforms that will largely change the social, legal and political reality, making it more humane, transparent and efficient,” he said.
In 2021, Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Index.
More than a dozen senior officials were sacked from their positions last week after a series of scandals and allegations of corruption in Ukraine’s biggest wartime government reshuffle.
With the influx of Western funds, Zelenskiy, who came to power promising to fight corruption before the invasion even began, is hoping to clean up the country’s image.