Polish citizen detained over alleged bribe in Ukraine: report
PR dla Zagranicy
A Polish citizen holding a senior managerial position at the Ukrainian state rail company Ukrzaliznytsia was detained by the country’s security service (SBU) when allegedly accepting a USD 70,000 bribe on Wednesday, according to reports.
Photo: Alexamator, own work, via Wikimedia Commons [Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported]
According to Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko, “the detained man is a Polish citizen” who was “appointed to the post by the previous management of Ukrzaliznytsia.”
Lutsenko has written in a Facebook post that the detained manager’s name is Vakhtang Jakeli and that he worked as first deputy head of the audit and supervision department at Ukrzaliznytsia.
According to sources “close to Ukrzaliznytsia” and quoted by Poland’s PAP news agency, the man comes from Georgia and once lived in Poland “for some time.” He is also believed to have worked at the Georgian embassy in Kiev in the past.
According to Lutsenko, the manager was caught red-handed and the bribe he accepted was handed over to him as "a solution to the question of appointing a Ukrainian citizen to a managerial position at Ukrzaliznytsia." The detention was made in a Kiev restaurant, Lutsenko said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Lavrenyuk wrote on Facebook that the USD 70,000 bribe was just the first instalment of a palm-greasing deal that he said was to total USD 300,000.
The former CEO of Ukrzaliznytsia, Polish manager Wojciech Balczun, said he had no information about the matter. "But for many months I've been hearing about provocations being prepared,” he told the Delo.ua website. “Luckily, I decided to quit at the right time,” Balczun said.
Balczun resigned in August. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said at the time that the resignation was for personal reasons and at the request of the Polish manager.
Balczun became the CEO of the Ukrainian rail carrier in April last year after defeating 30 contenders applying for the post. After a year of work, the media praised him for stabilising the company's finances and for launching new international rail services, including those to Poland.
However, Balczun was heavily criticized by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan, who demanded that Balczun’s contract of employment not be extended.
Shortly before Balczun’s resignation, Lutsenko appealed to Prime Minister Groysman to fire the Pole, accusing Balczun of failing to tackle corruption in his company. But no formal charges were pressed against the Polish manager at the time. (gs/pk)