Court arrests ex-Defense Ministry official in connection with weapons procurement fraud

The Appeals Chamber of Ukraine's High Anti-Corruption Court ordered the arrest of Oleksandr Liyev, former head of the Defense Ministry's department in charge of weapons procurement, the Anti-Corruption Action Center reported on Feb. 12.

Liyev was taken into custody in the courtroom and will be held in custody until April 8 unless he posts bail, set at Hr 50 million ($1.3 million), the center wrote on Telegram.

His case is related to a corruption scheme revealed by the SBU on Jan. 27 that involved the procurement of almost 100,000 mortar shells, amounting to almost Hr 1.5 billion ($40 million).

The SBU said the investigation had "exposed officials of the Defense Ministry and managers of arms supplier Lviv Arsenal, who stole nearly Hr 1.5 billion in the purchase of shells."

The individuals implicated in the embezzlement include both former and current high-ranking officials from the Defense Ministry, as well as heads of associated companies.

According to the SBU, a contract for shells was secured with Lviv Arsenal in August 2022, six months into the full-scale invasion. The payment was made upfront, including the transfer of funds abroad. No arms were delivered, however, and some funds were subsequently moved to other foreign accounts.

Five individuals were charged, encompassing both the ministry and the arms supplier. One suspect was reportedly detained while attempting to cross the Ukrainian border.

If Liyev is released on bail, he will be obliged to wear an electronic bracelet and hand over his international passport, among other restrictive measures, the center said.

"The bail doesn’t match with my salary and income. I am very shocked by the (court) decision," Liyev said in a video posted on Facebook, calling it “a punishment for the responsibility” he took in his position in the Defense Ministry.

Liyev denies the accusations and said he would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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