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SBU says ex-deputies from OPFL stole 32 barges from Ukraine's merchant fleet

The deal was organised by two former Odesa city councilors and the former head of a shipping company.

SBU says ex-deputies from OPFL stole 32 barges from Ukraine's merchant fleet
Photo: SBU

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the National Anticorruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialised Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) have uncovered a large-scale scheme to steal property from the state-owned Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company.

According to the special service's website, two former deputies of the Odesa City Council from the now-banned OPFL and the former head of the shipping company were involved in the scheme.

The criminals misappropriated 32 barges of the company's merchant fleet worth over UAH 80 million.

The investigation established that in 2017, the suspects entered into several agreements between the shipping company and a controlled company for the lease of vessels. However, instead of using them for their intended purpose, the criminals took the state-owned barges outside Ukraine, changed their licence plates and falsely re-registered them to an affiliated company.

The vessels were then transported to a Middle Eastern country. There, they were dismantled and converted into 12 larger barges, which the suspects then used for their commercial purposes. In particular, on the territory of Ukraine, but under a different registration.

Law enforcement officers have now located all the stolen vessels and arrested them.

The SBU-initiated examinations confirmed that the "new" boats were made from components of river boats of a state-owned enterprise.

Based on the collected evidence, three organisers of the fraud and three of their accomplices were served suspicion notices under three articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine:

Part 4 of Article 190 (fraud committed by an organised criminal group on a particularly large scale);

Part 5 of Article 191 (misappropriation of property by an organised criminal group on an especially large scale);

Part 3 of Article 209 (transactions with property obtained as a result of a socially dangerous illegal act that preceded the legalisation (laundering) of proceeds, committed by an organised group on a particularly large scale).

The investigation is ongoing. The offenders face up to 12 years in prison. The seized property was transferred to the management of the Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA).

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