Ukrainian authorities launch criminal proceedings in Slava Ukraini scandal

NGO Slava Ukraini logo.
NGO Slava Ukraini logo. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian Prosecutor's Office said that authorities in Ukraine have launched criminal proceedings concerning the scandal of Estonian NGO Slava Ukraini.

"We have been in direct contact with colleagues from the Ukrainian prosecution and been told that the authorities there have launched criminal proceedings that will also investigate details and events covered in the Estonian media," Public Prosecutor Triinu Olev told ERR.

"Estonian law enforcement cannot comment on proceedings taking place in other countries as only the agency in charge can decide how much information can be shared without it affecting or harming proceedings," she added.

Olev said that should the Ukrainian authorities require help collecting evidence, Estonia can offer support in international cooperation.

"We will continue to analyze all the information we receive, and should we see a reason to launch proceedings also in Estonia, that is what we will do."

ERR's information suggests that the prosecution in Ukraine has told the country's public broadcaster that the National Bureau of Investigation launched pretrial investigation on March 24. Criminal proceedings were launched based on sections of criminal law dealing with embezzlement and use of humanitarian aid and charitable donations for profit. The case is investigated by the national investigations bureau because of the involvement of public officials. The prosecution is in charge of supervision.

It was revealed in April that NGO Slava Ukraini transferred €1.5 million in aid donations collected from Estonia to a private company called IC Construction with ties to its Ukrainian partners. The firm very likely has a fictitious owner and its activity was tied exclusively to the Estonian NGO. The Ukrainian company reported a profit of €250,000 last year.

Kristo Tohver, chairman of the supervisory board of Slava Ukraini, has said that the nonprofit had no idea IC Construction had turned a profit on money from Slava Ukraini. Tohver also said that, to the best of his knowledge, Slava Ukraini leader Johanna-Maria Lehtme has not profited from the donations.

NGO Slava Ukraini has commissioned an audit to investigate the use of funds.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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