Thursday, October 29, 2020

Home of Ukraine’s ex-tax chief Verlanov raided in money laundering case

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The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has searched the apartment of former State Tax Service Chief Serhiy Verlanov. The agency suspects the tax service’s former top management – including him – of tax evasion and money laundering.

On May 7, the SBU searched through his documents, flash drives, phones and gadgets, according to Verlanov. Law enforcement “did not specify what they were looking for,” he said, adding that, at the time of the search, he was at home with his wife and daughter.

The SBU conducted at least 100 more searches across Ukraine that same day, investigating regional top managers of the tax service. The security service hasn’t specified whether all these people are still working for the government or not.

In conducting the searches, the SBU was investigating a tax scheme whose organizers allegedly changed state databases of taxpayers, allowing some companies to evade taxes and launder money. The scheme generated losses worth “billions of hryvnias” for Ukraine, the SBU said.

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Verlanov, however, believes that the search was politically motivated and connected to his work at the tax service.

“We fought with all corrupt officials, of all types. Many did not like it,” Verlanov said.

Verlanov was fired abruptly on April 24. He hasn’t even been told the reason for his dismissal yet, which he says was illegal.

Verlanov had led the tax office since May 2019 and enjoyed the reputation of an honest official. Previously, he had served as deputy finance minister under Oksana Markarova in 2018–2019 and was a partner at law firm Sayenko Kharenko.

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