Sunday, April 2

Ukrainian investigators search premises of former Naftogaz managers

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KYIV — Ukrainian investigators said on Tuesday they had searched the premises of former managers at state energy firm Naftogaz and private companies in a pre-trial investigation into the suspected misappropriation of 2.2 billion hryvnias ($77 million) of gas.

Asked for comment, a senior Naftogaz official said the company had learnt of the searches from the media, adding: “It is therefore hard to draw any conclusions yet. I hope the former management of the company has answers to these questions.”

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The running of Naftogaz is closely watched by Ukraine’s Western backers and investors. The government removed its former head Andriy Kobolyev abruptly last year, drawing scrutiny from the United States and prompting the resignation of its supervisory board.

Kobolyev on Tuesday denied any wrongdoing by Naftogaz officials during his administration.

“In the process of resolving the problem that arose more than 20 years ago, the teams of Naftogaz and Ukrtransgaz were guided by the interests of these companies,” he said on Facebook. He did not elaborate.

Naftogaz has also led Ukrainian opposition to the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. The pipeline will bypass Ukraine, and Kyiv says it is a Russian weapon to bully its European neighbors. Moscow denies this. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk, writing by Matthias Williams, editing by Timothy Heritage)