$80 million tied to Yanukovych associate frozen in Latvian banks

In cooperation with their Latvian colleagues, Ukrainian investigators have uncovered and frozen more than USD 80 mln (EUR 73 mln) worth of funds in Latvian bank accounts. The funds were moved there by Serhiy Kurchenko, a well-known associate of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian LSM site reported yesterday via rbc.ru.

Arsen Avakov, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, said on Facebook that the money was "stolen from Ukraine". 

Along with the 80 mln USD arrested, some 177,000 euros and a million Czech crowns (about 40,000 euro) have been frozen. Avakov said that the matter of returning the money to the state is now being solved.

The asset retrieval management division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with Latvian police, concluded that the money was sent to accounts of offshore companies and, consequently, to Latvian bank accounts.

Kurchenko was targeted by EU sanctions in March 2014 as he is suspected for corruption during Viktor Yanukovych's years of power. Kurchenko owned an oil refining company and the Metalist football club. In April, the court of Kiev arrested Kurchenko's assets that had been invested in the company and the football club.

Kurchenko is estimated to have caused losses of about 4 billion hryvnia (160 mln euro) to the Ukrainian oil and gas as well as the banking industry. He is suspected for embezzling and money laundering for about 4.7 billion hryvnia (190 mln euro). Kurchenko's current whereabouts are unknown, and he faces up to 15 years in jail if and when he is eventually found.

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