Ukraine Accuses Former Zelenskiy Aide of Illicit Enrichment

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s anti-graft authority notified a former deputy head of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office he is suspected of illicit enrichment, as pressure grows on the president to show results in the fight against corruption.

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A former deputy chief of the presidential staff acquired assets worth more than 10 times his income and savings, and hid them under his brother’s name, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau said. The bureau didn’t name the man, saying only that he held the job from 2019 to 2024.

The official in question is Andriy Smyrnov, according to a person in law enforcement with the knowledge of the investigation. Smyrnov, who worked for Zelenskiy’s powerful Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak for four years, was dismissed in March under presidential decree, without a reason being given. Smyrnov had been appointed under Yermak’s predecessor, Andriy Bohdan, who was fired in 2020 amid criticism for links with the now-detained tycoon Igor Kolomoisky.

Smyrnov didn’t reply to a text message from Bloomberg News.

Zelenskiy was propelled to office in 2019 on a pledge to root out endemic corruption that eroded Ukraine’s economy for three decades since the Soviet Union collapsed. Moscow’s invasion has made the issue more urgent as international donors have demanded progress while they dispatch tens of billions to keep the war-battered economy afloat and provide weapons to the frontline. In late April, Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi became the first cabinet member under Zelenskiy’s presidency to be detained before being bailed.

Read more: Ukraine Detains First Minister in Zelenskiy’s Graft Crackdown

The accused ex-official’s purchases, estimated to cost 17.1 million hryvnia ($430,000), included an apartment in Lviv, a land lot in Zakarpattya in western Ukraine, two cars, two motorcycles and three parking places in Kyiv, the anti-corruption bureau said. He tried to conceal them by transferring most of those assets to his brother, while retaining the right to use them.

The purchases were worth more than $600,000 before depreciation of the currency triggered by the full-scale invasion.

--With assistance from Olesia Safronova.

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