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Ukrainian Police Raid On Major Bank Draws Dismay From Hroysman

  • RFE/RL

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman (file photo)

Ukraine's state security service raided the Kyiv offices of the country's largest investment bank looking for illegal software on April 26, drawing a dismayed reaction from Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman.

The SBU announced it had discovered eight companies using what it said was illegal, Russian-made software that can be used for hacking into private computers and phones, prompting the raid on Dragon Capital and seven other companies it did not name.

Bank spokeswoman Olha Beloblovska said Dragon Capital, which is affiliated with the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, has always operated within the law.

"They have a court order to remove computer equipment. They say it's about the illegal use of software. But the firm bought this program legally and officially. They want to take all the computers and paralyze our work," she said on Facebook.

Dragon Capital's website says it handles the largest share of trades on the Ukrainian stock market, carrying out about a third of all transactions. It said it has raised more than $5 billion in new capital for the crisis-battered country.

News of the raid prompted Hroysman to interrupt a cabinet meeting and express his surprise, warning that such raids could hurt business and investor confidence in Ukraine.

"This doesn't help to build the investment climate," he said. "I don't have the right to meddle in the work of the SBU, but I think that everything should be done properly, without paralyzing [Dragon Capital's] work."

Ukraine has a reputation for endemic corruption, and businesses often complain of harassment from law-enforcement bodies.

The SBU defended what it said were court-approved raids on Dragon Capital and other firms it said are using the prohibited Russian software.

"Russian special services are interested in getting access to information on critical infrastructure and also on businesses that have great defensive value," it said.

"Information gained clandestinely is used to damage the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability, defense capability, and the state, economic, and information security of Ukraine."

Gas producer Ukrhazvydobuvannya said the SBU had also raided its office and removed computer equipment.

"These actions could destabilize" the company, it said, adding that all company software had been purchased legally.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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