As reported by Censor.NET citing NABU press office, the indictment against the mayor, his deputy, the communal property department chief, and chairman of the permanent commission on communal property of the Odesa City Council was issued by Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutors’ Office (SAP) Nazar Kholodnytskyi under investigation into misappropriation of public funds. The mentioned officials may be put on the wanted list since their whereabouts have not been established.
Moreover, three more persons (an official of the Odesa mayor's office and two CEOs of private firms) were detained on Feb. 13. An appraiser involved in transaction was also brought charges against under the same criminal case.
It is noteworthy that the NABU detectives secured search warrants concerning these officials back in Dec. 18-19, 2017. However, three officials of the mayor's office left the country on Dec. 19-20, 2017 and have been hiding from the investigation since then. The chairman of the permanent commission on communal property of the Odesa City Council also left the country in early January 2018.
The investigators believe all the aforementioned persons were involved in embezzlement scheme. In September 2016, the Odesa City Council purchased a building, which used to be a part of asset package of the state-owned Kraian plant, for 185 million hryvnia from a private firm which purchased the entire asset package for 11.5 million hryvnia at an auction organized by the receiver of the state enterprise in early 2016.
The seller tried to launder the funds received from the city authorities through a bogus firm but NABU and SAP thwarted this attempt by freezing the seller’s accounts. The persistent attempts to lift the attachment have repeatedly been made ever since.
In October-December 2017, an Odesa Regional Council member whom the investigators consider to be the beneficiary of the company that sold the building and his accomplice offered $500,000 in bribe to a NABU member in exchange for unfreezing the firm’s bank accounts. The Prosecutor General's Office indicted the deputy and his accomplice on corruption charges on Jan. 12, 2018