2 Ukrainian officials misappropriated $1.6 million, anti-corruption agency says

Two Ukrainian officials have been implicated in a corruption scandal involving food supplies as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's anti-corruption push. The officials misappropriated about $1.6 million in funds, according to Ukraine's anti-corruption agency. File Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/UPI

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Two high-ranking Ukrainian officials have been embroiled in a corruption scandal as the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky continues its anti-corruption push.

First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Taras Vysotskyi, and an unnamed former deputy minister of the economy were found to have misused about $1.68 million in funds.

Vysotskyi took advantage of the Ukrainian railway company Ukrzalinznytsia for one of the schemes, anti-corruption officials said.

"From March to August 2022, Ukrzaliznytsia overpaid companies participating in the scheme UAH 22.7 million [$610,000]. Having been received, the funds were transferred to a foreign company with signs of fictitiousness for further legalization," the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine said in a press release Friday.

"Draft records outlining the distribution of the ill-gotten gains were discovered during a search at a scheme participant's place," NABU said.

NABU said "he was aware of the actual market value of the products, as he regularly received relevant data from the state statistical service."

Earlier this month, Zelensky fired all regional military recruitment heads after an officer, Yevhen Borisov, was found to have up to $5 million in assets hidden in his mother's name in Spain. The Ukrainian president said the recruitment officers would be replaced by wounded military veterans.

"Corruption in military recruiting will be eliminated. The heads of all regional recruitment centers will be fired and replaced by brave warriors who have lost their health on the frontlines but maintained their dignity," Zelensky tweeted.

In January, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov resigned his post after a Ukrainian publication revealed he had purchased food for the military at inflated prices. Defense officials claimed the purchases occurred at inflated prices due to a "technical mistake."

Several other officials resigned after coming under scrutiny and President Zelensky responded by barring officials from unauthorized travel abroad.

"It applies to law enforcers, people's deputies, prosecutors and all those who are supposed to work for the state," the Ukrainian president said.