In the investigation regarding the possible laundering of money embezzled from Ukraine’s state budget using Latvian commercial banks has yet to yield any suspects. As a result of multiple court hearings, nearly EUR 50 million has been declared illegal funds and has been added to Latvia’s state budget, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.
One of the first people to be added to the list of sanctions by western nations after the regime change in Ukraine was 30-year-old self-styled billionaire Serhiy Kurchenko. Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation against Kuchenko for embezzlement and illegal travel outside of Ukraine. In accordance with a directive from the European Council, money associated with Kurchenko’s company has been frozen in Latvian banks as well.
Kurchenko was not the only associate of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovich who, possibly, hid stolen money in Latvia. In autumn 2014, Ukraine’s prosecutor general Vitaly Yarema announced that USD 49.3 million owned by the former vice-prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov were arrested in Latvian banks. USD 32 million and CHF 72 million owned by companies associated with businessman and politician Yuri Ivenyushenko were arrested on bank accounts in Latvia, Yarema reported.
De Facto has found out that the investigation regarding money laundering activities with Ukrainian money in Latvia continues. None of the aforementioned individuals, however, are among the suspects. Latvian State Police does not have any suspects at all.
«Cooperation with Ukraine is rather interesting. We have sent multiple requests for judicial assistance. In regards to document preparation, Ukraine has not been all too active. We have yet to receive any response,» – says deputy chief of State Police’s economic crimes prevention office Ilze Sokolovska.
Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers describes the situation in a similar way: «Unfortunately, we have not received word from Ukraine in regards to whether or not the money was stolen from the country and should be returned.»
Latvia’s legislation permits declaring money illegally acquired and have it confiscated even before the investigation is finished. Latvian police has used this option.
In the search for the owners of Ukraininan dirty money in Latvian banks, Riga City Northern District Court decided in three rulings that the money in question is to be confiscated. Nearly EUR 50 million have been added to Latvia’s state budget as a result.
Unofficial information states that money from ABLV and Regional Investments Bank was declared illegal and added to the state budget this summer. Most of the money that was confiscated and added to Latvia’s budget came from accounts of PrivatBank. The fact of the transfer of the money to the state budget was recently confirmed by the bank. Multiple sources have confirmed that the money in question is approximately USD 49 million, which coincides with the amount mentioned by Ukrainian prosecutors office in relation to former vice-prime minister Arbuzov.