SBU exposes corrupt officials who demanded bribes from Jewish pilgrims at the border
According to the investigation, the heads of one of the customs posts and the border service department systematically demanded and received money from Jewish pilgrims, Gazeta.ua reports citing the SBU Department in the Odesa region.
The scheme became particularly profitable for bribe-takers after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation and the closure of Ukrainian airspace for civil transportation.
"Officials of the checkpoint deliberately and unreasonably lingered the procedures of customs and border control for foreigners during their departure to Moldova. Documents, personal belongings, vehicles, and the like were "thoroughly" checked. Thus, the perpetrators urged them to pay bribes, implying that a delay at the border would lead to missing a flight. The cost of unhindered border crossing by one vehicle ranged from 150 to 500 US dollars," the report says.
SBU operatives documented several episodes of extortion and receiving bribes. One of the organizers of the scheme was detained. This is the senior shift officer, chief state inspector of the Department for combating smuggling and violations of customs rules of the Odesa customs. They detained him upon receipt of another bribe. The defendant was found to have a significant amount of cash in various currencies.
"To obtain evidence of illegal activities, law enforcement officers conducted a series of searches in the office premises of the customs post and the border service department, as well as at the places of residence of the defendants in the proceedings. The issue of detaining other defendants and further reporting suspicions under Part 3 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine is being resolved. Urgent investigative actions are continuing to identify all participants in the corruption scheme," the SBU said.