Defense Ministry official suspended in alleged connection to weapons procurement fraud case

A top Defense Ministry official was suspended allegedly in connection to the massive weapons procurement fraud case announced last week by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the ministry said on Feb. 2.

Toomas Nakhkur, the acting director of the Department of Military-Technical Policy, Development of Armaments and Military Equipment of Ukraine's Defense Ministry, was suspended at the request of Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Havryliuk.

The suspension was 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.

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

While the announcement of Nakhkur's suspension did not mention the procurement fraud case directly, it said the suspension was due to Nakhkur being charged with a crime.

The Suspilne media outlet and Ukrainska Pravda reported that it was connected to the procurement fraud case.

Since the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has been involved in several corruption scandals.

The two most notorious scandals, one regarding inflated prices for food supplies and the other connected to low-quality winter jackets, prompted the dismissal of former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Read also: DBR: Son of businessman implicated in defense corruption scandal declared wanted

We’ve been working hard to bring you independent, locally-sourced news from Ukraine. Consider supporting the Kyiv Independent.