Ukrainian investigators have opened a criminal probe into suspected extortion by members of a sister anti-corruption body.
The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK) is a keystone of Western-backed reforms but has been subjected to criticism for dragging its feet in checking officials’ wealth declarations for evidence of illicit gains.
NABU — a sister agency investigating high-profile corruption cases — said on November 14 that it opened the case against NAZK officials on suspicion that they had received “undue benefits in especially large amounts, combined with the extortion of such benefits.”
A NABU spokeswoman said that officials at other state agencies are also under investigation, but did not give further details.
“Investigators are not ruling out that NAZK officials may have acted as part of an organized group,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the case was opened partly based on information from the former head of NAZK’s financial control department, Hanna Solomatyna.
Earlier on November 10, Solomatyna said she had decided to resign and hand over evidence to NABU after realizing an online wealth declaration tool managed by NAZK was compromised.
“The electronic declaration system is being used to cover up for officials loyal to the authorities, for crackdowns on dissidents, and for the personal enrichment of the NAZC’s chief and members of the NAZC’s collective leadership,” Solomatyna said. “The NAZC is not an independent agency. It is completely controlled by the government.”
Critics of NAZC say President Petro Poroshenko is using the anti-corruption agency to attack his political opponents rather than investigate corruption.