Ukraine's defense ministry Sunday denied reports it had grossly inflated food prices for a recent contract, in the worst corruption scandal to engulf the armed forces since the war broke out.

On Saturday national media reports accused the ministry of having signed a deal at prices "two to three times higher" than current rates for basic foodstuffs.

Eggs, which cost around 19 US cents in a shop, were contracted for 46 cents, while the ministry also signed for potatoes at more than double the retail price, according to the news website ZN.UA.

It said the signed contract for 2023 would be worth 13 billion hryvnia, more than $350 million at the current rate.

The defense ministry called the reports "false" and said it "purchases the relevant products in accordance with the procedure established by the law".


Bit it added that an investigation would take place into how the information was shared, saying it "harms the interests of defense during a sensitive period".

The ministry said "controls are carried out" on signed contracts, and announced it would launch an internal audit and hold an emergency meeting with Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Monday.

"If violations in the activities of defense ministry officials are detected, they will be held accountable in accordance with current law," the ministry said.

Embezzlement is rife in Ukraine. In another scandal that erupted over the weekend, the country's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) questioned a deputy minister on suspicion of embezzlement, according to the infrastructure ministry.

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Artem Shylo, who had also worked for the SBU, is being held for two months on Hr.30 million ($770,000) bail.

Vasyl Lozynkiy, in office since May 2020, "received ($400,000) to facilitate the conclusion of contracts for the purchase of equipment and generators at inflated prices," the NABU said.

Ukraine is facing electricity shortages following Russian strikes on energy infrastructure.

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