Representatives of the Odesa regional Administration of the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection extorted bribes from grain exporters within the international “grain agreement.”
The corrupt officials offered to “guarantee” the timely delivery of phytosanitary certificates for money, threatening long bureaucratic delays for grain shipment clearance if the “tribute” was not paid.
The scheme was uncovered by the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
During investigations, one intermediary was detained with bribes reaching almost 400,000 Hr. (about $11,000). Public officials had extorted at a “tribute” rate of $0.40 per ton of exported grain.
In November 2022, public officials of the same Food Safety Service in Odesa were caught for the first time for taking bribes in exchange for phytosanitary certificates. They used a network of private companies that extorted the money in the guise of delivering consultation services, as found out by the State Bureau of Investigations of Ukraine.
The Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports (the Black Sea Grain Initiative) was launched in July 2022 and addressed the 2022 food crisis caused by the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The initiative has been mediated by the United Nations and Turkey.
From August 2022 till March 2023, 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain have been exported from the ports of Odesa, as reported Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian Minister of Community Development and Infrastructure.
In March 2023, the Grain Deal was extended for an unspecified length of time.
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