Ukraine’s security service said five people had been charged with plotting to embezzle funds intended to purchase 100,000 mortar rounds.
Employees of a Ukrainian arms company conspired with Defense Department officials to embezzle nearly $40 million intended to purchase 100,000 mortar rounds for the war with Russia, the Service reported Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).
The SBU announced Saturday evening that five people had been charged, including one arrested while trying to cross the Ukrainian border. If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison.
This announcement, confirmed by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, will have a profound impact on a country besieged by The Russian invasion has lasted for almost two years.
The SBU said an investigation had “revealed Defense Ministry officials and executives of arms supplier Lviv Arsenal stole nearly 1.5 billion hryvnias ($40 million) during the purchase of shells.
“According to the investigation, former and current senior officials of the Ministry of Defense and managers of affiliated companies are involved in the embezzlement,” the SBU said.
The deal called for the purchase of 100,000 mortar rounds for the army, with the contract concluded in August 2022 and payment made in advance.
But no weapons were ever provided, the SBU statement said, with part of the funds then transferred to other foreign accounts.
Five people received “notices of suspicion” – the first step in Ukraine’s legal process – both within the ministry and the arms supplier, according to the security services’ statement.
A suspect, the SBU said, was arrested while trying to cross the Ukrainian border.
Among the officials accused of participating in this project are the former and current heads of the Department of Military and Technical Policy, Armament Development and Military Equipment of the Ministry of Defense, as well as the head of the Lviv Arsenal .
According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, the stolen funds have been seized and will be returned to the defense budget.
Corruption within kyiv’s military is a thorny issue, both as it attempts to maintain wartime morale and present its case of accession to the European Union.
Last September, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was fired following various corruption cases.
Russia hits large swaths of Ukraine
The announcement comes as Russia launches drone and missile attacks targeting both civilian and critical infrastructure across Ukraine, kyiv’s air force said on Sunday.
The air force said Moscow attacked the central Poltava region with two ballistic missiles fired from its Iskander ballistic missile system. It also launched three surface-to-air missiles over the Donetsk region in the east.
In the southeastern Zaporizhia region, Governor Yuri Malashko said an infrastructure site was hit by a drone attack.
Filip Pronin, governor of the Poltava region, wrote on Telegram that the attack hit an industrial site in the city of Kremenchuk, sparking a fire.
There were no preliminary reports of casualties, kyiv said.