The US has admitted it can’t keep track of all the money sent to Ukraine due to endemic malpractice and a lack of accountability
Ukraine’s Western backers are willing to accept that it will take time to clear up corruption in the country, Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Wednesday. He claimed that corruption in Ukraine is at its lowest level in two decades and has fallen “completely under public monitoring.”
Asked by the state-funded US outlet how he had reached conclusion, Marchenko insisted that it came from “experience,” a “gut feeling,” and a “certain understanding of numbers.”
He admitted, however, that corruption still exists in Ukraine and that scandals continue to lead to pressure from international organizations. The minister added that while anti-corruption agencies and public organizations are delivering results, they often come after lengthy processes.
Nevertheless, Kiev’s Western partners “understand” that cleaning up the system of power in Ukraine cannot happen overnight, Marchenko insisted.
“[Ukraine’s partners] are ready to accept that we may have corruption,” said the minister, noting that corruption has taken on new forms due to the conflict with Russia.
Commenting on numerous reports about wrongdoing in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Marchenko acknowledged that “there are questions for all sectors, including the defense sector, unfortunately.”
Last week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky publicly denounced the corruption and “numerous abuses” that had been uncovered by an audit of military recruitment centers. Investigators found that some facilities were charging an average of $6,000 to certify that potential recruits were unfit to serve.
Meanwhile, the US has also raised concerns over rampant corruption in Ukraine. Last month, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General admitted that it struggled to track the billions of dollars Washington has sent to Kiev since February 2022, due to “corruption in the Ukrainian government and private sector.”
Ukraine consistently ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world. The so-called Pandora Papers obtained by the International Association of Investigative Journalists in 2021 revealed that despite Zelensky’s public anti-corruption stance, he and his business partners had a network of offshore companies which they used to buy lavish properties in central London.
Although Zelensky transferred his stake in one of the companies to an aide just before he was elected president in 2019, the documents showed that dividends from the business are still being paid to his wife. The Ukrainian leader’s critics have also accused him and his associates of continuing to use offshore accounts to evade taxes.
August 10, 2023 at 04:04PM