KYIV, March 12 – Military prosecutors may have destroyed evidence in high-profile Ukroboronprom defense company embezzlement investigation after media reports had implicated senior officials, Bihus.info, a team of investigative reporters, said.
The reports uncovered involvement of Ihor Hladkovsky, son of the First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleh Hladkovsky, a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko.
Poroshenko dismissed Oleh Hladkovsky shortly after the reports, but the new revelations may hurt Poroshenko’s popularity ahead of presidential election later this month.
The latest report from Bihus.info aired on Monday indicated that law enforcement agencies may have for years closed their eyes on illegal purchases of spare parts for Ukroboronprom, enabling massive embezzlements.
Ukraine's tax authorities, the Military Prosecutor's Office, National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) knew about illegal schemes in Ukraine's defense industry, but failed to stop them.
According to the probe presented by the journalists, the subjects of their investigation – Vitaliy Zhukov and Andriy Rohoza – would agree with tax officials to drop complaints against LLC OptimumSpetsDetal. In 2016, the illegal scheme was covered up with the help of Dmytro Moskalenko, an investigator with the Kyiv department of Ukraine's SBU State Security Service.
The journalists also demonstrated that NABU, an anti-corruption arm, knew of the illegal schemes in Ukraine's defense industry.
Zhukov apparently demanded Rohoza resolve the issue about "mistakenly including" OptimumSpetsDetal in the list of bogus companies with Deputy Director of NABU Gizo Uglava.
The company had been entered into the list of fake firms because of suspicious contracts with the Kharkiv Tank Factory – NABU investigated purchases of the factory, and OptimumSpetsDetal sold the factory sights for tanks. It was later removed from the list.
The Kharkiv Tank Factory purchased tank sights on the basis of prepayment three times, according to the report. After NABU removed OptimumSpetsDetal from the list, the factory continued buying sights, incurring losses of UAH 13 million to Ukraine's state military budget.
The journalists also said the participants in the illegal scheme intended to switch imports of engines for armored vehicles to the Leninska Kuznya plant (Kuznya on Rybalsky Shipbuilding Plant) and to sell Ukroboronprom $100 million worth of spare parts for anti-aircraft systems and planes. (tl/ez)