KIEV (Reuters) - Two high-ranking Ukrainian judicial officials have been detained on suspicion of corruption and a large quantity of diamonds, $400,000 in cash and a Kalashnikov were found during raids on their homes, Ukraine’s SBU security service said on Monday.
The officials - a deputy chief of the investigative arm of the general prosecutor’s office and the deputy prosecutor for Kiev region - are accused of extorting bribes from a sand company after seizing its equipment. They have not been identified.
The government is at pains to show it is sparing no efforts to carry out painful reforms and stamp out deep-rooted corruption.
In exchange, the West has promised billions in financial aid to help the near-bankrupt economy recover from years of mismanagement and a conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the east.
A photo released by the security service show SBU officers in camouflage fatigues and black balaclavas breaking into a safe during the raids, others show hundreds of $100 bills laid out on the floor after the search, alongside gold jewellery, pearls and boxes of bullets.
The SBU said officers found $400,000 in cash, a significant amount of jewellery, 65 diamonds and a Kalashnikov.
“Through intermediaries, the prosecutors demanded and received the hryvnia equivalent of $150,000 for their ‘help’ in returning the equipment (to the sand company),” the SBU said.
“We need to continue decisive efforts to eradicate corruption at the highest levels of government,” President Petro Poroshenko told security chiefs following the prosecutors’ detention, his press service reported.
Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams