Influential Ukrainian Politician Detained In Graft Probe

MOSCOW – Ukrainian investigators are preparing to ask a court to arrest an influential former lawmaker suspected of embezzlement, a second senior political figure to have been detained in the former Soviet republic in less than two months.

Mykola Martynenko, a top ally of former prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, was detained late on Thursday in the capital Kiev after the National Anti-Corruption Bureau announced it was preparing to file charges against him.

The former chairman of the parliament’s energy and fuel committee is suspected of embezzling $17.3 million by using his company to arrange purchases of uranium ore concentrate for a state-owned company which provides uranium for the country’s nuclear power stations.

Nazar Kholodnytsky, head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, said in televised comments on Friday that prosecutors would ask the Solomyansky district court later in the day to put Martynenko under a two-month arrest or on bail of 300 million hryvnias ($11 million)

Martynenko’s detention comes less than two months after Roman Nasirov, chief of the Ukrainian Fiscal Service, was arrested pending trial on embezzlement charges.

Like Martynenko, Nasirov has been mentioned in various journalist investigations on official corruption in Ukraine.

Martynenko had served in the Ukrainian parliament since 1998 but stepped down in December following reports of his involvement in money laundering in Switzerland. He has often been described as the financier behind Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party.

Embezzlement charges that the former lawmaker faces could send him to prison for 12 years.

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  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Ukrainian authorities detained an ex-MP and a state energy firm deputy chief for the embezzlement of US$ 17.3 million from selling uranium concentrate at inflated prices, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) said Friday.

    Mykola Martynenko, the former head of the Ukrainian parliament’s energy committee, is suspected of personally benefiting from the scheme through an Austria-registered company he allegedly controlled, Reuters reported.

    According to the bureau, the Steuermann Investitions und Handelsgesellschaft sold Kazakh uranium ore at hiked prices to Ukraines’ Eastern Ore Dressing Plant for three years.

    The state-owned enrichment plant then sold uranium to the state nuclear power giant Energoatom.

    The first deputy chairman of state energy firm Naftogaz, Sergiy Pereloma, is suspected of having been an intermediary in those dealings before he joined Naftogaz.

    Martynenko allegedly spent US$ 50,000 of the stolen money on his wife’s medical bills and over €64,000 (US$ 70,900) on renting property in the EU for family members, including a London apartment for his daughter.

    Ukrainian, Swiss and Czech authorities have also been investigating Martynenko for accepting 30 million Swiss francs from Skoda and money laundering the bribes, in return for Skoda winning a contract to supply Energoatom with equipment.

    He is also believed to have spent some of the stolen Uranium money on defense advocates in the Swiss criminal investigation.

    On Saturday, however, Kyiv’s Solomyansky Court decided to release Martynenko without bail although prosecutors had requested he should be jailed on a Hr 300 million (US$ 11.2 million) bail, according to the Kyiv Post.

    21 people had offered to vouch for Martynenko, including 17 members of his political party, People’s Front.

    Before the decision, NABU accused the the party’s lawmakers of verbally threatening the judge during the hearing. The party in turn accused the bureau of exerting pressure on judges.

    The same day, prosecutors said that two other key suspects in the investigation, directors of the enrichment plant, had fled Ukraine and their whereabouts remain unknown, the Kyiv Post reported.

    “They were about to be charged with the offenses,” said prosecutor Roman Symkiv in an interview, “I assume that they knew about it.”

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