Kyiv, Oct 10 (EFE).- Ukrainian investigators have arrested a former deputy defense minister and a senior ministry official for allegedly endangering soldiers’ lives by procuring low-quality bulletproof vests during the ongoing war with Russia.
According to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the former deputy minister and a department head in the ministry ordered subpar protective equipment from abroad.
They made a 100 percent prepayment and disregarded the ministry’s quality control procedures, resulting in the delivery of substandard-quality bulletproof vests that put soldiers’ lives at risk, the SBI said in a press statement.
The accused officials are alleged to have embezzled $6.85 million from the state treasury, and the charges are connected to another defense scandal involving $38.36 million.
The agency said their actions led to the misappropriation of public funds, weakened the country’s defense capabilities, and jeopardized the safety and health of military personnel.
The officials face charges of abuse of office, committed on a large scale during martial law. If found guilty, they could be imprisoned for up to 12 years. Currently, both suspects are in custody.
The former deputy minister had faced charges in February for obstructing the lawful activities of the armed forces by allegedly lobbying for contracts worth over $27.4 million to supply low-quality ammunition.
Last month, Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov resigned amid corruption allegations related to acquisition of non-military items for soldiers. Shortly afterward, six deputy ministers were relieved of their duties as part of the ministry overhaul.
A leaked letter from the White House to the Ukrainian government recently demanded urgent anti-corruption measures within the army and other state branches as a condition for continued aid. EFE