Ukrainian Police Search Tycoon's Offices

KIEV, Ukraine -- Police searched the eastern Ukrainian offices of the country's wealthiest tycoon on Tuesday as part of a tax evasion investigation, a prosecutor's spokeswoman said.

Ukrainian police officers searched the eastern Ukrainian offices of the country's wealthiest tycoon, Rinat Akhmetov

Investigators were looking for documents at Rinat Akhmetov's offices "in connection with prosecutors' investigation of tax evasion and abuse of power," said Irina Ankudimova of the Donetsk prosecutor's office. She refused to elaborate.

Akhmetov, a coal and steel magnate, could not be reached for comment.

The tycoon and his businesses have faced increasing pressure since Viktor Yushchenko came to power in January -- part of the new government's crackdown on shady business deals dating back to the previous administration.

In July, police summoned Akhmetov for questioning about an alleged 1988 assassination attempt. Akhmetov failed to show up; his company said he was abroad and insisted the summons was not mandatory.

Yushchenko's government also has regained control over an important steel mill that was bought last year by Akhmetov and the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma in a highly criticized privatization deal.

Akhmetov's U.S.-based lawyers have called the investigations politically motivated.

Akhmetov has been listed by Forbes magazine as Ukraine's wealthiest tycoon, with an estimated fortune of $2.4 billion. Besides steel and metals holdings, he is also the owner of a top soccer club and a major television station.

Source: AP


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