Macedonia: Ex-Official, 8 Others Allegedly Embezzled Millions
Nine people, among them a former Defense Ministry official, have been arrested for allegedly embezzling US$ 2.76 million in a helicopter maintenance scam. According to ABC News, the Oct. 21 arrests stem from an investigation into government spending on a program to maintain military helicopters.
The Macedonian Organized Crime Unit said the nine were involved in fake billing on service contracts for six military helicopters bought by the Macedonian military from Ukraine. Among them, as the Global Post portal reports, is the former head of the Logistics Department of the Ministry of Defense.
Ivo Kotevski, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said that between 2005 and 2007 the maintenance services were provided by the company Ukrainmash. The three contracts signed with this Ukraine-based company were worth about US$ 2 million, while other payments went to other companies. The suspects are charged with forming a criminal association and various fraud-related charges.
The investigation concluded that the money drawn out of the Ministry of Defense was laundered through a network of companies based in Macedonia, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Cyprus.