The employees of the State Bureau of Investigation came to the ex-head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov with a search. This publication “Strana” was informed by a source in the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, the information was confirmed by Avakov himself.
Investigators were interested in information about the purchase of French-made Airbus helicopters. As a result of the crash of such a helicopter in mid-January, 14 people were killed.
“They finished the search after the helicopter crash. They looked at Airbus contracts six years ago. Naturally, nothing. The contracts were approved by the government and parliament. They conducted it correctly, albeit senselessly stupid. They formally worked out the version,” Avakov told reporters.
Arsen Avakov served as head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from 2014 until 2021, when he was replaced by Denis Monastyrsky, who died on January 18 as a result of an Airbus H225 Super Puma helicopter crash in the city of Brovary (Kyiv region). The causes of the crash have not yet been established.
As the BBC wrote earlier, before the incident in Ukraine, one high-profile plane crash was associated with H225. In 2016, an H225LP crashed off the coast of Norway with two pilots and 11 passengers on board. None of them survived. Then it turned out that the helicopter crashed due to the destruction of the gear in the main rotor gearbox.
During the investigation, civilian H225s were temporarily banned from flying, changes were made to the design of this element of helicopters, new standards for inspections and operating modes were adopted, but several countries still abandoned these models.
In 2018, France and Ukraine entered into an agreement for 552 million euros to acquire more than fifty helicopters. This happened when Avakov was the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The helicopter that crashed in Brovary was received by Ukraine in 2020. After the accident, some journalists suggested that these machines could have technical defects.
The SBU considers three main versions of the tragedy: violation of flight rules (pilot error), technical malfunction of the helicopter and sabotage.
On Wednesday, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, which investigates embezzlement and corruption in defense procurement, reported suspicions against Bohdan Khmelnytsky, deputy director of the Department of Public Procurement and Supply of Material Resources of the Ministry of Defense, former Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, and former deputy head of the state-owned enterprise Promoboronexport. Vladimir Tereshchenko.
Search at Igor Kolomoisky’s
The Ukrainian Security Service and the Economic Security Bureau searched the home of Ukrainian businessman Igor Kolomoisky, Ukrainian media reported.
Sources in law enforcement agencies of Ukraine reported that the search in the businessman’s house was carried out by the SBU and BEB, the investigation concerns the companies Ukrtatnafta and Ukrnafta, which were controlled by Kolomoisky.
The SBU subsequently issued a press release about “exposing large-scale schemes for embezzlement of 40 billion hryvnia (more than $1 billion) by the former management of PJSC Ukrnafta and PJSC Ukrtatneft.”
Photographs in the press release show a man resembling Kolomoisky with a hidden face. BBC News Ukraine received a photo from the search site, which shows Kolomoisky.
The security service said in a statement that investigators are documenting 10 episodes of criminal activity in the interests of the actual owners and beneficiaries of the companies.
“In particular, this is the withdrawal of large consignments of petroleum products to affiliated companies, tax evasion, the creation of bad debts of the refinery and oil producing plants, which led to the depreciation and decrease in the value of their assets,” the press release says.
The Ukrainian media reported about the searches near Kolomoisky back in September.
Then, employees of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine searched Kolomoisky’s house in connection with the case of taking possession of the property of Ukrnafta, seized equipment and documents. No charges were brought against him at the time.
In November, Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta became state property. These assets acquired the status of military property, and their management was transferred to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov.
Ukrnafta is the largest oil and gas producing company in Ukraine. Gas processing plants of Ukrnafta are the largest Ukrainian producers of liquefied gas.
Ukrtatnafta is an oil refinery based in Kremenchug, one of the largest producers of petroleum products in Ukraine.
Anastasia Zanuda, BBC News Ukraine Business Correspondent
This is not the first search at Igor Kolomoisky’s place – the previous one was in September 2022. Shortly before that, last summer, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine (SAP) was headed by Oleksandr Klymenko.
Then the detectives seized documents and electronic media.
The search at Kolomoisky’s place took place a couple of weeks after the announcement of suspicions to eight persons for taking property and funds of PJSC Ukrnafta in the amount of more than UAH 13.3 billion (more than $350 million).
These suspicions were received by the former chairman of the board of Ukrnafta and a number of representatives of the company.
The case was opened under the article on “seizure of other people’s property by abuse of official position by an official, by prior agreement by a group of persons, on an especially large scale.”
At that time, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) reported that the investigation had established a number of episodes according to which PJSC Ukrnafta concluded and paid for contracts for the sale of oil and turned out to be fictitious oil products, and the funds were withdrawn to offshore accounts.
According to the investigation, the companies with which contracts for the supply of oil were concluded were associated with the companies of the Privat group, controlled by Igor Kolomoisky and his business partner Gennady Bogolyubov.
They also controlled about 40% of Ukrnafta, Ukraine’s largest oil company. At the same time, the controlling stake belonged to the state represented by NJSC Naftogaz, and the rest – to minority shareholders.
The conflict between the shareholders became the basis of another lengthy legal dispute between Naftogaz and Ukrnafta on the recovery of more than 9 billion cubic meters of gas and all the income that NJSC Naftogaz received or could receive from the sale of this volume of natural gas.
This gas was produced by Ukrnafta in 2007-2013. Another attempt to settle the dispute was literally on the eve of the war, when at a meeting of shareholders they could conclude an agreement on the distribution of assets between the owners. However, this did not happen.
The situation is similar with Ukrtatnafta, only there the distribution of shares is “mirror” in comparison with Ukrnafta.
In Ukrtatnafta, Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov own about 60%, and the rest belong to Naftogaz. Ukrtatnafta’s key asset is the Kremenchug oil refinery, which was destroyed by Russian rocket fire in May.
On November 7, 2022, these two companies (together with three more) were nationalized, and the shares of PJSC Ukrnafta and PJSC Ukrtatnafta were transferred to the ownership of the state represented by the Ministry of Defense.
The decision to nationalize the companies was based on the law and order of the Supreme Commander Volodymyr Zelensky.
As President Zelensky said, this was done so that Ukrnafta, which is an oil and gas producing company, worked 24/7 for defense needs.
Igor Kolomoisky himself, in a comment to Lb.ua, said: “No comments and assessments until the end of the war.”
We should also recall the numerous court cases – both in Ukraine and abroad – after the nationalization of Privatbank, which was also part of the business empire of Igor Kolomoisky.
The key thing in all these cases around companies and enterprises owned or co-owned by Igor Kolomoisky is that no one has yet announced suspicions in Ukraine to him.