Ukrainian Media CENSOR.NET reports that More than a year ago, Yuriy Zbitnev’s company “Lviv Arsenal” received a contract worth 1.4 billion, but never delivered the weapons. Ukrainian journalists have been writing about this case for six months, but there has been no communication from law enforcement on this story. A request from the Public Anti-Corruption Council at the Ministry of Defence revealed that the National Police is investigating the case of non-delivery.
At the same time, on 24 January, Hromadske published a story in which one of the people involved in the deal directly stated that the then head of the State Military Technical Plant, Liev, offered him to inflate the price of ammunition by several times. And the price was indeed inflated. Read about the new details of the “Lviv Arsenal” deal in Censor.NET’s article.
Six months ago, when asking about this contract, the author heard: “It looks like it was a special operation by Moscow to prevent us from getting these mines.” At the time, the author was sceptical. She thought it was just your way of explaining away your lack of discernment in suppliers. But the further we went, the more arguments this theory had.
Overpriced and 4 million euros in the dark
As you know, on 10 October 2022, “Lviv Arsenal” signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence to supply 120 mm and 82 mm mortar rounds.
The company received an advance payment of 97 per cent against the obligation to deliver the weapons to Ukraine in two months. The money was paid, channelled through several companies – first through the Slovakian company “Sevotech”, then the Croatian company “WDG Promet” – but the weapons were never delivered.
In March 2023, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine filed a claim with the commercial court to recover UAH 1,340,465,698 in prepayment, as well as UAH 90,683,623.06 in fines and UAH 96,734,638 in penalties for late delivery of goods from “Lviv Arsenal”.
On 26 September 2023, the Commercial Court upheld the claim.
However, the company appealed to the Northern Commercial Court of Appeal. On 24 January, the Ministry won the appeal.
The story of the non-delivery of weapons by “Lviv Arsenal” looks like a planned scam from all sides. Censor.NET has described it many times before.
Firstly, the Ministry was not granted a licence for the producer – Croatia. It was only given to the transit country, Slovakia.
Secondly, the Ministry agreed to buy the 82nd calibre at a price that was significantly higher than the prices of the time. This round was contracted for UAH 10,200. For comparison, in June 2022, Ukrainian Armour supplied this calibre for UAH 3,700, and in August, Ukrspetsexport supplied it for UAH 6,100.
The price of the “Lviv Arsenal” is not only higher than the previous prices, but also UAH 2,100 more expensive than the prices for similar products offered by “Progress” in December. Even in 2023, with the price of ammunition constantly rising, the 82nd mortar round did not cost the same as in the scandalous contract.
Thirdly. If you take the difference with the price of “Progress” and multiply it by the number of ammunition units under the contract, you get 126 million in margin.
If we compare the price of a 120 mm mortar round with the price from “Ukrspecexport” as of August 2022, it was UAH 17,300 per unit, while “Arsenal’s” price was UAH 19,200.
And now, one of the intermediaries in the deal, a representative of “Sevotech’s” supervisory board, Oleksandr Khoroshayev, has told Hromadske that representatives of the Ministry of Defence wanted to get kickbacks from the contract with “Lviv Arsenal’.
“I get a call from “Arsenal”: Liev wants the mines not for 240 euros, but for 330, and the mines that are for 510 are also for 630. I explain to him: I will not pay these kickbacks, it is impossible. There is a European Commission in Brussels that is responsible for all the money from Ukraine that comes here. For every 20,000 euros, they will “squeeze” me. I say: I can only give 5-7%,” Khoroshayev told the journalist.
The former head of the DVTP, who signed a contract with “Lviv Arsenal”, Oleksandr Liev, denies any contact with Khoroshayev.
“I am not familiar with this person. I have never heard his name (before the journalists’ investigation). I did not hold verbal negotiations with “Arsenal”, there was only correspondence,” Liev told Censor.NET.
“The price in their offer did not change and was (if I remember correctly) 485 euros for a 120 mm mine plus 3% agency income for “Lviv Arsenal”, which is almost 19 thousand UAH. And for an 82 mm mine (if I remember correctly), it was almost UAH 10 thousand, which at that time was 260 euros with delivery and 3% agency fee. These were the prices in the government contract. At the time, these were absolutely reasonable prices,” he added.
“So, the information you are asking me to comment on is false. In addition, I would like to remind you that it was me who put stiff penalties for breach of contract and delay in the contract, and it was me who eventually issued fines to “Lviv Arsenal” along with an appeal to law enforcement agencies. And it was me who initiated the seizure of funds on their account after the delivery date was missed,” Liev said.
However, it seems that both Khoroshayev and Liev want to appear better than they are.
The Hromadske journalists have payments that show that “Lviv Arsenal” paid the first intermediary, “Sevotech”, more than 12 million euros, but then only 8 million went to the Croatian company “WDG Promet”.
That is, the 4 million euros most likely ended up in the hands of unknown companies. And the money that reached the Croatian company was never spent on ammunition.
Then came “WDG Promet’s” tears that they had been robbed by their own bank operator, Kamil Babukh. In return, he accused “WDG Promet” of buying the plant with Ukrainian money.
In the latest investigation by Hromadske, Babukh explicitly states that there was no money in the accounts of “WDG Promet” until the money transferred by the Ministry of Defence. He claims that the company’s owners, the Zubak family, have been looking to buy the “Vitezit” gunpowder plant in Bosnia since 2021.
These are not all the suspicious episodes.
Caliphs for an hour. A very strange supervisory board of “Sevotech”
In a previous article, Censor.NET wrote that almost simultaneously with the signing of the contract, a certain Vladyslav Klishchar joined the supervisory board of Sevotech.
This is a person who is part of the entourage of Andriy Hmyrin, a Yanukovych-era fiscal officer who was a member of President Zelensky’s office in 2021.
Hmyryn is a defendant in the NABU case on embezzlement of public funds from Odesa Port and the United Mining and Chemical Company. The case also involves Klishchar’s companies EPI Group s.r.o. and Belanto, to which UMCC sold ilmenite at a low price, which was then shipped to Russia or occupied Crimea at market prices.
However, Hmyryn managed to flee abroad before the announcement of suspicions, and Klishchar was not charged.
In a commentary to Hromadske, the businessman assured that he had never had anything to do with the Ministry of Defence’s money. However, his arrival at “Sevotech” and his departure strangely coincide with the signing of a contract with “Lviv Arsenal” and the start of massive media coverage in 2023.
Klishchar has been living in the Czech Republic for a long time. He has several companies there, each more interesting than the last. Among them is a certain LEO INTERNATIONAL GRUPP, where Belanto’s attorney Oleksandr Bezzubets and Oleksandr Belyaev are partners.
Yes, this is the same Oleksandr Belyaev, who is the brother-in-law of former SSU head Ivan Bakanov and a former business partner of Volodymyr Zelenskyi himself. A more than interesting and odious character.
Another company is ILS INVESTMENT GROUP s.r.o. Klishchar has partners there – Belyaev and Alexander Melnychuk.
Klishchar says he had nothing to do with the supply of weapons to Ukraine. This is true. No one supplied the weapons. Just as “Sevotech” delivered only 2,500 bulletproof vests and helmets instead of 17,000. The contract was signed in April 2022, and the delivery was supposed to take place in July 2022. But 14,500 bulletproof vests and helmets were never delivered. “Sevotech” shifted the blame to its supplier MTC Slovakia.
So, it seems that it is worth taking a closer look at “Sevotech” and who is part of this company.
“Our company Sevotech spol. s.r.o. has been operating in the European and global arms market for the past 27 years. During this time, we have implemented a number of successful armament projects and contracts in many parts of the world. We value our reputation and the reputation of our European partners,” said Jan Hodermarski, the company’s CEO, in a statement after the first article about the scam by Roman Romaniuk was published by UP.
Okay, let’s look at who is on the company’s supervisory board. The current members are Ladislav Hodermarski, Zuzana Maitanova, Magdalena Dobiasova, and the former deputy CEO of “Progress”, Oleksandr Khoroshayev, who left the Ukrainian company on a business trip in 2022 and remained abroad.
However, this list includes an even larger group of people who for some reason joined the company’s supervisory board for a year or even for a few months. For example, the aforementioned Klishchar joined “Sevotech’s” supervisory board for only a year.
Similarly, the members of the Supervisory Board were: Martin Haring (from 11.04.2022 to 08.12.2022), Jan Kuchera (from 11.04.2022 to 08.12.2022) and Katharina Haring (from 11.04.2022 to 08.12.2022).
It should probably come as a surprise that the three individuals have been on the Supervisory Board for the same period of time.
But there are other strange and even scandalous things.
Martin Haring, Katharina Haring and Jan Kuchera are also involved in another company in the same line-up. This time in the Czech Republic. It is the Nadační fond EDRCh.
The company was established on 28 March 2022 as a charitable organisation.
In fact, it is a continuation of another project by Katharina Haring, the European Defence Readiness Chamber, z.s. On its website, the company proclaims its goal to promote Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU.
Women’s leadership with a Moscow accent
Among its tasks, EDRCh declares the following: “Ensuring independent supplies of military equipment for Ukraine. To build a network of reliable and transparent companies in NATO countries that will reliably fulfil their obligations to Ukrainian partners in the field of military supplies and thus ensure the stability of military supplies both for Ukraine’s own needs and for fulfilling the obligations of Ukrainian companies to partners in third markets.”
Yes, you’re not confused. This is written on the website of the company whose representative was on the supervisory board of “Sevotech”, which failed to supply Ukraine with 14,500 helmets and bulletproof vests. As well as 100,000 mines. Indeed, “a network of reliable and transparent companies in NATO countries”.
Martin Haring and Jan Kuchera are difficult to identify further. But what has been found about Katharina Haring is enough to create a scandal.
This is a rare case where the heroine of the article has an active social media presence. And that’s because in reality, Haring’s main business is not arms supplies. It is lectures on women’s leadership.
That’s why almost the entirety of Haring’s page is devoted to stories of her students who have become successful. Or speeches at relevant events. She was even included in the Czech Forbes list of 150 successful women. She was ranked 65th. With a company that made… exhibitions.
If you open the register of Haring’s first company, you will find out that its business partner is a Russian.
And on 22 December 2022, Haring, whose website declares the independent and proper supply of weapons to Ukraine, took part in an online meeting of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs FCEM (Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises Mondiales) in Moscow.
According to the “Union of Women of Russia”, Ekaterina Garing organised and moderated the meeting as the Association’s vice-president.
A similar meeting was held on 21 December 2023.
In addition to Haring, both meetings were attended by Galyna Roketska, an adviser to the head of the Russian Women’s Union. And it is not only important that this “Union” constantly supports Putin. It is also important that it organises business courses for displaced women from Donbas, which was destroyed by Russian aggression.
Roketska herself is also very colourful. Not only because her housekeeper stole 13 million rubles from her. She is the wife of the former governor of the Tyumen region, Leonid Roketskyi. Her granddaughter works in President Putin’s administration. Roketska has very wide connections, from political to criminal.
And it is with this person that Haring cooperates and shares some common values, as she was a member of the supervisory board of “Sevotech”, which failed to supply Ukraine with 100,000 mines. But whose other company declares a “reliable supply of weapons” for Ukraine.
This is not an isolated case. Haring has been to Russia many times, and she has a photo from the same “Union of Women of Russia” from 16 February 2022. After all, Haring even studied in Moscow.
The icing on the cake is that, following previous investigations into Klishchar’s team, the author received a business card photo of the mysterious Oleksandr Melnychuk. As it turns out, he is also a member of the Haring EDRCh company. The one that is supposed to be an “independent supplier” of weapons to Ukraine.
Tetyana Nikolaenko, Censor.net
Share this article: