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Massive fraud alleged on Ukrainian Euro work

  • Guardian, Thursday, June 21, 2012 4:31 PM

Opposition politicians allege there was massive fraud to the tune of as much as $4 billion related to stadium construction and infrastructure work in Ukraine for Euro 2014.

Ukraine built or renovated stadiums in Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv, upgraded airports in the four host cities, laid or repaired 1,000 miles of roads and purchased a fleet of Korean high-speed trains to transport fans between cities.

About 80 percent of the budget came from government funds, but Borys Kolesnikov, the deputy prime minister in charge of Euro 2012, was given power in 2010 to award no-bid contracts.

Ostap Semerak, the opposition sports minister, alleges contracts were given to firms with indirect or direct links to officials and other figures associated with President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling Party of Regions.

"The scheme is very simple: the official and his chosen contractor agree to share the budget cash," Semerak wrote in the Kiev Post. "They cook up an overblown budget, and the contractor pays off a part of it back to the official as soon as he receives a transfer -- usually in cash. Sources in such companies have said that the scheme allowed officials to receive (or, to put it bluntly, steal) between 30% to 40% of the state funds allocated for the tournament's preparation. We're talking about up to $4 billion."

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