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Ukrainian Court Orders Arrest Of Top Tax Official

Roman Nasirov at his Kyiv court hearing on March 6.
Roman Nasirov at his Kyiv court hearing on March 6.

A court in Kyiv has placed Roman Nasirov, Ukraine's tax and customs service chief, under arrest pending trial on embezzlement charges.

A special prosecutor tasked with fighting corruption has sought Nasirov's arrest on suspicion of "abuse of office leading to serious financial losses," citing concerns that he could try to flee the country.

After a 14-hour long hearing, the Kyiv district court ruled on March 7 to send Nasirov to pretrial detention for two months.

He was suspended from his post on March 3 pending an investigation, alleging that the tax chief defrauded the state of 2 billion hryvnyas ($74 million).

The probe marks a rare attempt to prosecute a senior Ukrainian official on suspicion of corruption.

Nasirov can be granted house arrest if he pays bail of $3.7 million -- a record amount for Ukraine.

The National Anticorruption Bureau (NABU) said Nasirov has signed off on grace periods for a number of taxpayers, including companies linked to a former lawmaker who fled abroad last year while facing a corruption investigation.

Based on reporting by AP and UNIAN