Kyiv Raids Properties In $800 Million Ministerial Graft Probe

Ukrainian law enforcement agents on July 14 raided property allegedly controlled by a former official under toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych as part of an $800 million corruption investigation.

Ukraine's chief military prosecutor, Anatoliy Matios, said investigators carried out 183 raids in the capital Kyiv on property owned by former Income and Tax Minister Oleksandr Klymenko, who now is believed to live in Moscow.

Investigators carried out raids in the Gulliver shopping mall and the pro-Russian Vesti media holding, of which Klymenko is a beneficiary.

Klymenko on Facebook described the raids as "banal banditry" by the government, while saying they had a "political rationale."

The military prosecutor accused Klymenko of registering a number of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Cyprus between 2011 and 2013 and using offshore accounts to launder money stolen from the Ukrainian state budget.

The illegal scheme saw $788 million transferred to private companies and then spent on luxury apartments, cars, and office and retail premises, Matios said.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page that "nine of the main suspects are under arrest in a temporary detention facility."

He said that Klymenko's assets would be "frozen until a final court decision that I expect will confiscate them for the benefit of the state."

In May, law enforcement agents arrested 23 former high-ranking tax administration officials in the same investigation.

Klymenko fled the country after a bloody revolt that took place in central Kyiv in winter 2013-2014 ousted Yanukovych.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax-Ukraine