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Anti-graft watchdog: Key MoD procurement corruption scandal suspect caught trying to escape Ukraine

Son of key suspect in $25 million Ukraine defense procurement fraud scheme nabbed trying to flee, faces over a decade behind bars.
generic DBR SBI officers
Ukraine’s State Investigative Bureau officers. Illustrative photo: RFE/RL

Roman Hrynkevych was detained on 22 January while trying to cross the border in Odesa Oblast. He and four other suspects in custody have been probed under fraud charges linked to a corruption scandal around Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) procurement contracts. Hrynkevych was to be brought to court and remanded today, said the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).

The Hrynkevych case makes a high-profile example of Ukraine’s anti-graft actions taken against frontline supply violations. Earlier on 29 December 2023, Roman’s father, Ihor Hrynkevych, was arrested after allegedly offering a $500,000 bribe to a senior SBI official. His companies are alleged to have violated the MoD’s procurement contracts, resulting in a financial loss to the state amounting to UAH 934 million ($25 million).

The Hrynkevychs and their three suspected accomplices face charges of fraud and formation of a criminal organization. They signed contracts with the MoD to supply Ukraine’s Armed Forces with clothes, later allegedly failing to fulfill their obligations. The investigation found that Ihor Hrynkevych’s companies were previously involved in construction and did not have proper production facilities, warehouses, and other infrastructure for producing and storing products for the MoD’s needs. 

The SBI says six contracts were not fulfilled at all; under at least seven contracts, the businessman’s companies supplied goods to military units reportedly insufficiently but received state funding for the complete fulfillment of their obligations. The SBI also found that the Hrynkevych’s companies allegedly executed eight contracts with a delay of three to five months. As a result, Ukraine has experienced budget fund losses and supply disruptions on the frontline, the SBI claims.

On 17 January, the MoD canceled the last contract with Ihor Hrynkevych’s companies that had still been in effect. Reportedly, Hrynkevych Jr. headed to Odesa to flee from justice abroad. The next day, SBI declared Roman Hrynkevych wanted. On 19 January, the court ordered his arrest. He could not be detained earlier due to lack of evidence, according to the SBI.  

Five defendants in the case may face up to 12 years in prison. As per Defense Minister Umerov, audits and investigations conducted at the ministry in the past four months have revealed previously committed violations amounting to more than UAH 10 billion ($260 million).

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