Scots Firm Named In Ukraine-Kazakhstan Arms Deal Corruption Probe
Managers of the Kharkiv state aviation plant are suspected of embezzling about $2 mn, AntiCor reports Jan. 20.
Kharkiv officials acted in conspiracy with Scotland’s Portvilla Trading LP, National Anti-Corruption Bureau detectives say.
In 2013-2016, the Kharkiv plant transferred into Portvilla accounts over UAH50 mn ($2 mn) for non-existent planes, NACB says.
A SCOTTISH firm is at the centre of major corruption probe in the former Soviet arms industry, The Herald reported.
Ukraine’s elite National Anti-Corruption Bureau or Nabu has accused one of Scotland’s increasingly controversial “tax haven” firms of skimming £1.5 million from the multi- million-dollar export of war planes to Kazakhstan.
Detectives say an Edinburgh- registered Scottish limited partnership (SLP) called Portvilla Trading was paid for acting as a fictitious intermediary on the deal.
They have discovered some of the cash was funnelled through a Latvian bank, Rietumu, which is part-owned by Celtic’s biggest shareholder, Dermot Desmond. There is no suggestion the bank, or Mr Desmond, had any knowledge of the alleged wrong-doing.
The Nabu allegations, part of a major crackdown on corruption in Ukraine, immediately sparked calls from SNP MP Roger Mullin for UK Security Minister Ben Wallace – the politician in charge of MI5 – to order a British investigation into the case.
Mr Mullin, who has campaigned for SLP reform, said the latest revelations were “deeply worrying” and highlighted the transnational nature of the allegations involving a Scottish firm, a Ukrainian exporter, Kazakh importer and the Latvian bank, Rietumu.
He said: “This clearly calls for full investigation. I will be contacting the Securities Minister and asking him to consider a particular review of this case.”
The latest Ukrainian probe by the elite Nabu investigators centres on an order for two Antonov An-74 military transport aircraft worth a total of $59m placed by Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee or KNB, the republic’s successor organisation to the KGB, with a factory in Kharkiv.
According to papers filed by an investigating magistrate at Solomianka district court in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Kazazh officials were unaware of any services provided by the SLP.