Home MOREBUSINESS & ECONOMY “Grain agreement” – in jeopardy? The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine can cover those involved in the grain theft case.

“Grain agreement” – in jeopardy? The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine can cover those involved in the grain theft case.

At the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukraine completely lost the opportunity to export agricultural products to other countries, which caused a large-scale food crisis in many parts of the world. Fortunately, in the summer of 2022, thanks to the "Grain Corridor", it was possible to resume product exports, but even this was under threat - the Bureau of the US Treasury Department FinCEN found a corruption component in the main image project of Ukraine six months after the initiative was launched.

by gary cartwright
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The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine decided to demonstratively “shut up” the case of large-scale corruption in Ukraine and already on January 3rd information unexpectedly appeared in the press that the Security Service of Ukraine had uncovered a criminal scheme.

It turned out that a significant part of Ukrainian grain was exported unaccounted for: allegedly entrepreneurs bought grain from farmers, enterprises and large agricultural holdings, and then resold the products through several companies with signs of risk, and after this “path” sent them for export.

The scam turned out to be large-scale: 370 firms are involved in the case, but only 10 minor officials from customs divisions, the head of the State Customs Service department and the head of the Odesa Customs Service were handed over to the Security Service of Ukraine. But in order to organise such a scheme, it is not enough to be just customs officials – you need to have high-ranking patrons.

Yuriy Vaskov is the deputy minister of infrastructure, he is also called the curator of the “grain corridor”. Kubrakov appointed him to this position immediately after his appointment in June 2021. The minister was not embarrassed that the name of the official from Odesa repeatedly appeared in criminal cases about fraud in particularly large amounts and on the same grain topic. Just now, the National Police of Ukraine, under the procedural guidance of the Prosecutor General’s Office, is investigating the facts of multimillion-dollar damage to state-owned firms that were created during Vaskov’s leadership in 2020-2021.


Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure

Vaskov himself tries not to “glow”, but has an extensive experience in creating various schemes. Once he was even a deputy of the Odesa City Council from the “Party of Regions” – the political force of the fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych, which already hints at the not-so-good background of the official.

So, according to the State Customs Service, in 2022 Ukraine exported 22.024 million tons of grain and leguminous crops, of which 4.141 million tons only in December. It is difficult to say how much grain was exported from Ukraine during the year of the war, but it is quite clear that the profit of high-ranking officials involved in the grain deal is calculated in colossal amounts. It is worth noting that at the beginning of the “Grain Corridor” operation, Vaskov immediately appointed his closest “associates”, the so-called godfathers Vyacheslav Voronoi and Ruslan Sakhautdinov to key positions.

According to preliminary estimates, more than 1 million tons of grain of dubious origin were exported from the Black Sea, Southern and Odesa ports only in August-September 2022. It becomes obvious that grain sellers, i.e. 370 companies, would hardly enter this scheme without guarantees from Kyiv.

They are not only rich in grain.

Both Minister Kubrakov and his deputy Vaskov did not limit themselves only to grain deals – they also sell the Ukrainian seaports. In January Ust-Dunaiskyi was prepared for a quick privatization, but the port’s labor team opposed the sale. The workers sent letters to the Cabinet of Ministers, the Verkhovna Rada and the State Property Fund of Ukraine urging them to postpone privatization until the war is over. Also, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had to consider a statement in which the officials of the State Property Fund are accused of illegal actions during the preparation and holding of the privatization tender, but Kubrakov and Vaskov decided not to wait for the inspection from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine – they sold the port hastily.