In June this year I posted several blogs about a huge scam involving the purchase by the state-owned 'ChornomorNaftohaz' company of an oil drilling rig but, not content with the $150 million kick-back from that deal, Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko has just pulled the same stunt again.
According to 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya', 'ChornomorNaftohaz' has purchased yet another oil drilling platform, this time for $399.8 million. Tenders were received from three middlemen, all of them highly dubious, including from Highway Investment - the middlemen for the first oil rig.
The winners of the tender process this time were the Latvian Rigas Kugu company. They have nothing to do with oil platforms, but are merely a shipyard for construction and refurbishement of small-sized coastal vessels. Their majority share owner is a certain Vasyl Melnyk who is currently entangled in big-time scandals in his home country.
'D.T.' with the aid of the specialist U.S. consultants, 'Rigzone', found there are two oil drilling platforms currently available on the world market which would have suited ChornomorNaftohaz's requirements - both priced at $200m.
The publication consider rental of such a rig would be a far better bet - even optimistic oil production projections indicate that there is no need for purchase of such expensive capital equipment. Anyhow, after the scandal following the purchase of the first oil drilling platform, it would be reasonable to assume that the purchase of the second would be conducted in a 'squeeky clean' manner.
'D.T.' suggest the brazen attitude of ChornomorNaftogaz and Ukrainian ministers in this latest purchase indicates that the president himself must be involved in the scam too, particularly as ChornomorNaftogaz's parent company, 'NaftoHaz Ukrainy' is already up to its ears in debt.
In the light of such stories, the prosecution of opposition politicians looks even-more politically motivated. No wonder the Europeans are so disgusted with Ukraine's leaders whose commitment to fighting corruption is total hogwash.
The kleptomaniacs in the Ukrainian cabinet should take note of how things are done in other European countries. The British Business Secretary and cabinet member Vince Cable who has just been penalised by the taxman for failing to pay up to £25,000 in VAT on time. The £500 penalty was for late payment of tax on earnings from media work and speaking engagements in 2009-10 - the year before he became a minister.
p.s. An excellent, quick-paced television documentary, in Ukrainian, on the above-mentioned oil rig scandal from TVi here