A firm owned by a suspect in Ukraine’s biggest defense corruption case will supply ammunition for grenade launchers to state-owned defense company Ukroboronprom.
The firm, called Vektor V, is owned by Vitaly Zhukov, a suspect in a major corruption case at Ukroboronprom. The news was announced by Ukroboronprom on Nov. 1.
During his election campaign in 2019, then presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky criticized then President Petro Poroshenko for corruption schemes at Ukroboronprom.
Ukroboronprom and Zelensky’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
The Ukroboronprom scheme was revealed by the Bihus.info investigative journalism project in 2019. It involved Oleh Hladkovsky, a top Poroshenko ally and then deputy secretary of the National Defense and Security Council. The investigative project reported that the central people in the scheme were Hladkovsky’s son Ihor and entrepreneurs Zhukov and Andriy Rogoza.
The investigation exposed evidence that they embezzled money from the state defense budget by smuggling used parts from Russia and selling them to Ukrainian defense companies at inflated prices.
Published messages between the suspects from 2015 to 2017 show them discussing multimillion-dollar deals with state defense companies, paying kickbacks to their CEOs and negotiating with suppliers in Russia. Hladkovsky and his son have denied accusations of wrongdoing.
Ihor Hladkovsky was charged in the corruption case in 2020, and his case was sent to trial in April.
Oleh Hladkovsky was not charged in this case. However, he was charged in a separate corruption case in 2019. According to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, he abused his office for the benefit of his private company, Bohdan Motors. The case against Oleh Hladkovsky was sent to court in July.
In 2020, Zhukov and Rogoza were charged with tax evasion worth Hr 50 million ($1.9 million) and money laundering.
Zhukov escaped jail. He pled guilty and concluded a plea bargain to pay Hr 4 million ($154,000) to the budget and get a one-year suspended prison term. But in April, the High Anti-Corruption Court refused to accept the plea bargain, saying that it contradicted the law.
However, anti-corruption prosecutors said on Nov. 2 that they had sent the tax evasion case for a retrial.
Zhukov was also charged with giving an Hr 950,000 ($37,000) bribe to an Ukroboronprom executive in 2020.
However, he escaped jail again. Although his guilt was proven during court hearings, the High Anti-Corruption Court exempted him from responsibility for the bribe due to the expiry of the statute of limitations at the request of prosecutors.
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