Top 10 Uncovered Bribes By Law Enforcement

KIEV, Ukraine -- In 2008, more Ukrainian officials than ever got their fingers caught in the cookie jar. This year went down as a record-breaking year in the annals of bribes uncovered by law enforcement.

Mykola Konev, seen here handcuffed and flanked by special Internal Ministry forces at Kyiv's Pechersk District Court, allegedly accepted a $5.2 million bribe.

Given Ukraine’s reputation for corruption, one has to wonder how many bribes escaped the short arm of the law here. Some 1,500 public servants took bribes in 2008, totaling Hr 91.1 million, the Ministry of Interior Affairs announced on Dec. 19, almost triple last year’s totals. These are the top 10 bribes we found, mostly in the public service and real estate sectors:

(1) - Law enforcement officials said they uncovered the all-time whopper – a $42 million bribe. The corruption bust came earlier in December when Mykola Didenko, a district council chairman in the Kyiv Oblast city of Brovary, along with two subordinates, were allegedly caught taking Hr 11 million “up-front” money from foreign investors wishing to build cottages on two plots of land totaling 76 hectares in a deal worth $42 million. At a news conference, Interior Affairs Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said that people along “[President Victor] Yushchenko’s vertical chain of command ‘covered’ for Didenko.” Yushchenko dismissed the Brovary official in February 2008 amid a land scandal, which critics said involved hundreds of hectares of land distribution worth $2 billion. Nevertheless, Didenko was reinstated as Brovary district chair in March 2008. News reports have speculated that Victor Baloha, head of the presidential secretariat, stands behind Didenko.

(2) - The second on the list allegedly took place outside of Alushta in Crimea, where a township council member, Mykola Konev, elicited a $5.2 million bribe in return for leasing 17 hectares of land in the first half of 2008. “The overall sum of bribes is increasing dramatically,” said Leonid Skalozub, head of the economic crime unit of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, during a news conference in June.

(3) - The next million-dollar land deal labeled as corrupt came in Kyiv Oblast’s Novi Petrivtsiv where Oleksiy Yankovskiy, the village council chair, was suspected of demanding $1.3 million for allocating land.

(4) - More land deals made the news when Dnipropetrovsk City Council Chair Ivan Kulichenko and his aide allegedly were caught with $600,000 payoff in a land deal.

(5) - Many bribes ranged from $20,000 to $200,000. For example, a district council chair in Cherkasy Oblast was nabbed for accepting $200,000 in exchange for doling out 2.6 hectares for development.

(6) - A village council chair in Bakhchysarai district of Crimea was nabbed for accepting a $140,000 bribe in order to allocate two hectares of land in a recreational zone.

(7) - The Security Service of Ukraine detained a Ministry of Interior police officer early in December while taking a $120,000 bribe for unspecified reasons. Subsequently, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv dropped the case but prosecutors have appealed the case on grounds that the ruling was unlawful.

(8) - In another case that further undermined respect for the country’s corrupt judicial system came when the former Lviv Appellate Court judge, Ihor Zvarych, was allegedly caught red-handed accepting a $100,000 bribe in the ex-governor's office early in December 2008. A search of his house later found large sums of hryvnia and more than $1 million in cash, which Zvarych explained as a "hourse warming." Zvarych was later released on bail and went missing on Dec. 12.

(9) - Fraud is common in the banking system, especially in credit unions where loans were issued by employees to people who never repaid the money they borrowed. This particular incident is exemplary: A young loan officer issued nine loans ranging from Hr 20 to Hr 100,000 and received more than $20,000 for her “services.”

(10) - To further diversify the scope of bribes, the director of the Department of Spirits, Alcoholic Drinks and Tobacco Goods at the State Tax Service was detained in August for taking $20,000 in return for issuing a license for the sale of alcoholic beverages to a private entrepreneur.

Source: Kyiv Post

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