(Adds raid on gas producer)
By Natalia Zinets
KIEV, April 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s state security service (SBU) raided the Kiev offices of Dragon Capital, one of the country’s largest investment banks, over the alleged use of illegal software at its premises, the bank’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
The SBU said in a statement it had uncovered eight companies using what it said was illegal, Russian-made software that can be used for hacking into private computers and phones. It did not respond to requests for comment on the raid.
Bank spokeswoman Olga Beloblovskaya said she had no more details about the investigation but said Dragon Capital had always operated within the law.
“They have a court order to remove computer equipment. They say it’s about the illegal use of software. But the firm bought this programme legally and officially. They want to take all the computers and paralyse our work,” she said in a Facebook post.
Ukraine has struggled to shake off a reputation for endemic corruption and businesses often complain of harassment from law enforcement bodies and the tax revenue service.
The SBU said it had seized computers at eight companies, but did not name them, and that it was working to identify the individuals at the firms that used the software.
“Russian special services are interested in getting access to information on critical infrastructure and also on businesses that have great defensive value,” it said.
“Information gained clandestinely is used to damage the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability, defence capability, and the state, economic and information security of Ukraine.”
Gas producer Ukrgasvydobuvannya (UGV) said the SBU had also raided its office and removed computer equipment.
“These actions could destabilise the work of UGV,” it said in a statement, saying that all company software had been purchased legally.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman interrupted a cabinet meeting to express his surprise at the news of the raid on Dragon Capital, which he warned could affect investor sentiment.
“I don’t have the right to meddle in the work of the SBU, but I think that everything should be done properly, without paralysing (Dragon Capital‘s) work,” he told ministers. “This doesn’t help to build the investment climate.”
Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Matthias Williams and Ken Ferris