Searches are currently being carried out at the premises of the National Agency of Ukraine for the Asset Recovery and Management (ARMA), as well as at the department's leadership, MP of the Servant of the People faction Halyna Yanchenko said.
"Searches are inderway in ARMA. The same searches continue at the homes of acting head of ARMA Vitaliy Syhydin, his deputy for asset management Volodymyr Pavlenko and head of the asset management department Vakhtang Bochorishvili. Searches are being held by the SBI together with SBU," Yanchenko wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Later, the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) and the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) confirmed the information about the searches.
"It was established that during November-December 2020, members of an organized group, which included officials of the National Agency and lawyers, took possession of funds totaling more than $400,000, which were transferred to the management of ARMA. These persons, on the basis of forged court decisions, unreasonably transferred money to the bank accounts of persons who had nothing to do with them. On April 1, 2021, investigators of the SBI conducted a series of searches in the premises of ARMA and at the addresses of residence of its leaders," the SBI website says.
The preliminary qualification of the offense, according to the department, is the seizure of funds on an especially large scale by an organized group, as well as the use of forged documents and the receipt of unlawful benefits by an official (Part 3 of Article 28, Part 5 of Article 191, Part 4 of Article 358 ,Part 3 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
The PGO reports that more than 50 simultaneous searches were carried out in Kyiv and Kyiv region in this case and the seizure of funds in the amount of more than $500,000.
"According to the investigation, the members of the organized group ... during November-December 2020 took possession of funds recognized as material evidence in a number of criminal proceedings and transferred to the management of ARMA, totaling more than $500,000 by transferring them on the basis of fake court decisions to the bank accounts of individuals who are not participants in criminal proceedings," the department said.
According to Yanchenko, a number of episodes of "corruption machinations" by ARMA are being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).
"Over the past year, I have systematically drawn attention to the abuses of ARMA and called for an immediate restart of management, and also made such a proposal to the President of Ukraine. In addition, to change the situation, I registered two bills on restoring order in ARMA and reforming the management of seized assets. These bills were signed by another 70 MPs. I hope that today's events will be a clear signal that changes in ARMA are needed now, and sufficient motivation for the prepared bills to be finally put to the vote in the hall," she wrote.
Yanchenko expressed conviction that legislative changes can become a safeguard "from lawlessness and muddy stories of ARMA" in the future.