Corruption scandal: President of Ukraine’s top court arrested over $2.7 million bribe allegation

President of the Ukrainian Supreme Court Vsevoloda Knyazêv
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Anti-corruption authorities in Ukraine have reportedly arrested the president of the country’s top court on suspicion of accepting a $2.7 million (€2.49 million) bribe.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) detained the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, Vsevoloda Knyazêv, on Monday, according to Ukrainian news outlets, and claimed to have exposed “large-scale corruption in the Supreme Court” involving its leadership and a number of fellow justices.

“At this time, the head of the supreme court has been detained, and measures are being taken to check other individuals for involvement in criminal activity,” said Oleksandr Omelchenko, a prosecutor at the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) at a joint briefing with NABU officials on Tuesday.

On Monday, Ukrainian authorities posted a photograph on social media of money stacked up on a sofa, which was found during an investigation into corruption among Supreme Court officials.

NABU chief, Semen Kryvonos, told attendees that the multi-million dollar bribe pertained to a favorable court ruling for the now-bankrupt Finance and Credit group owned by Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago, who now resides in France.

Zhevago, who has denied the allegation, is already the subject of an arrest warrant in Ukraine for accusations of embezzlement. The businessman, who also served in the Ukrainian parliament from 1998 to 2019, was arrested in France at Ukraine’s request in December last year, but a French court refused to initiate extradition proceedings back in March.

“We are showing through real cases, real deeds, what our priority is: top corruption, criminal organizations at the highest levels of power,” Kryvonos said during Tuesday’s briefing. He added that the corruption scandal involving Knyazêv is the most high-profile case so far and hinted that other suspects could soon be exposed.

The Ukrainian Supreme Court convened an emergency session on Tuesday in which it condemned those implicated in the corruption scandal and pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation.

Ukraine scored just 33 points out of 100 on last year’s Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International and is the 116th most corrupt nation out of the 180 countries included.

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