Ukraine's Tedis Ukraine tobacco giant has been accused of tax evasion and financing Russia-backed separatists that control parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko told journalists in Kyiv on March 31 that some 1,000 law enforcement officers are conducting about 100 searches at the firm's offices in Kyiv, Odesa, and Dnipro.
Tedis Ukraine is suspected of tax evasion and of large-scale illegal money transfers to Russia -- some of which might have been used to support the Russia-backed separatists, Avakov and Lutsenko said.
The officials said Tedis Tobacco's actual owner is Russian citizen Igor Kesayev, who was officially banned by Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council from transferring finances abroad.
Despite the ban, the company transferred at least 2.5 billion hryvnyas ($91.7 million) to Russia in 2015-17, Lutsenko charged.
Lutsenko also said that Tedis Ukraine was led by people linked to the Degtyaryov Armaments Factory -- a Russian firearms-producing company in Vladimir Oblast that is believed to provide the separatists with weapons.
The offices of the Antimonopoly Committee in Kyiv are being searched as well, as it is suspected of assisting Tedis Ukraine to evade taxes and carry out other financial misdeeds.
Tedis Ukraine is a monopoly company controlling Ukraine's tobacco-distribution business.
Based on reports by UNIAN and Lb.ua