Two senior defense ministry officials being held on suspicion of embezzling $7 million earmarked for buying bulletproof vests were both previously arrested earlier this year over their alleged involvement in other corruption schemes.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) reported that a former deputy minister of defense and the head of one of the Ministry's departments had been served with suspicion of embezzlement.

Though they were not named, sources in the DBR told Kyiv Post the two men are Vyacheslav Shapovalov and Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

In the latest scandal, the two men are accused of ordering “low-quality body armor” from abroad.

“This led not only to the loss of 250 million hryvnia (~$6.85 million) of budget funds, but also to the undermining of the country's defense capability and a threat to the lives and health of army personnel,” the DBR said.

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Both men face up to 12 years in prison.

Here’s what is already known about the two men…

Vyacheslav Shapovalov

Shapovalov received the post of Deputy Minister of Defense in November 2021, immediately after the appointment of Oleksiy Reznikov as the head of the Ministry of Defense.

In January 2023, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) launched an investigation into the alleged price gouging of the Ministry's procurement of food for the military.

The Ukrainian media outlet Dzerkalo Tyzhnia also wrote about possible corruption schemes, reporting that the ministry purchased food for the military at higher prices than in supermarkets in Kyiv.

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Shortly after, Shapovalov wrote a resignation letter.

Although it was accepted by Reznikov, the Ministry of Defense stated: “Despite the fact that the voiced accusations are unfounded and groundless, Vyacheslav Shapovalov's statement on dismissal is a worthy act in the traditions of European and democratic politics, a demonstration that the interests of defense are higher than any cabinets or chairs.”

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In February, Shapovalov was charged with obstructing the lawful activities of the Armed Forces and other military formations for allegedly lobbying for the conclusion of contracts for the supply of low-quality ammunition for the needs of the armed forces.

He was arrested and given bail in the amount of over Hr.400 million (~$11 million).

But he called the accusations absurd and unsubstantiated.

In an open letter to President Volodymyr Zelensky, written in July, Shapovalov claimed he was simply fulfilling the tasks assigned to him.

“I often think back to the third night after the full-scale invasion began, when you invited me to a meeting to discuss the provision of the army,” Shapoval wrote. “At that time, the warehouses did not have stocks of helmets and bulletproof vests, or a sufficient number of uniforms.”

“You personally told me, Mr. President, that everything must be done to provide the Armed Forces with what is necessary, and ‘we will figure it out later,’” he wrote.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky

The former head of the procurement department of the Ministry of Defense was implicated in a scandal after an investigation by journalists about the purchase of eggs for the military at Hr.17 per egg (~$0.47).

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Reznikov also denied these accusations, claiming it was an attempt to undermine trust in the Ministry. Despite this, Khmelnytsky was dismissed from his position in January.

In February, Khmelnytsky was suspected of embezzling state funds. According to the investigation materials, he purchased almost 3,000 pieces of body armor for over Hr.100 million ($2.74 million) for the Armed Forces.

Khmelnytskyi was arrested in February.

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