Ukraine Hit By Major Corruption Allegations

LONDON, England -- UEFA is under pressure to investigate claims of massive corruption during Ukraine's preparations for Euro 2012, amid allegations that as much as $4bn (£2.5bn) in state funds allocated for the tournament was stolen by officials.

Rebecca Harms

Rebecca Harms, the leader of the Green faction in the European parliament, said UEFA had to investigate why Ukraine cancelled competitive tenders for all Euro 2012 projects in 2010.

Instead, contracts for building stadiums, roads and other infrastructure projects were awarded to a handful of shadowy companies, including one based offshore in Belize.

Opposition politicians allege that the companies belong, directly or indirectly, to government officials.

Ukraine's government denies this.

Harms, a German MEP who visited Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, last week, told the Guardian: "I will confront UEFA with these questions. I will also raise them in parliament. In whose private pocket did the money go? UEFA must take responsibility."

Ukraine embarked on a programme of modernisation ahead of Euro 2012.

It built or renovated four stadiums; upgraded airports in the four host cities, Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv, and laid or repaired 1,000 miles (1,600km) of roads.

It also purchased a fleet of Korean high-speed trains to transport fans between venues.

The overall cost of Euro 2012 is in dispute.

Borys Kolesnikov, the deputy prime minister, who in charge of infrastructure and Euro 2012, says the government spent $5bn, including $800m on stadiums.

But others say the real figure including related projects and state guarantees is $10bn - more than the $2.25bn originally envisaged when UEFA gave the tournament to Kiev and Warsaw in 2007.

Source: The Guardian