Wanted Ukrainian oligarch granted visa to Israel, ex-minister gets citizenship

In two new corruption cases, police investigate alleged bribery and breaches of law at the Interior Ministry

Illustrative. An Israeli passport. (Flash90)
Illustrative. An Israeli passport. (Flash90)

A billionaire Ukrainian oligarch suspected by Interpol of high-scale embezzlement and money laundering was granted a tourist visa to Israel for a period of six months after he allegedly bribed Interior Ministry officials, Israeli media reported Tuesday, in one of two new Ukraine-related corruption cases now being investigated by police.

According to Army Radio, the tourist visa was extended to the entire family of Yuri Borisov, the former CEO of a major subsidiary of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz.

Borisov is suspected, among other crimes, of stealing millions of dollars worth of US financial aid to Ukraine, the report added.

Borisov, however, declined the Israeli visa and fled the country following the arrest and interrogation of former deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum in light of a corruption scandal that has rocked her Yisrael Beytenu party over the past weeks.

Kirshenbaum, a powerful member of the party, was the highest-level arrest in the case to date. She has since been released as the investigation continues.

Richard Ben Haim, an Israeli private eye familiar with the case, told Army Radio that Borisov was granted the visa in an “extremely efficient manner,” suggesting that the officials behind the move had received bribes in order to speed up the process.

Former Ukrainian minister of energy and coal industry Eduard Stavitsky (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, UWCTransferBot, CC BY-SA 1.0)
Former Ukrainian minister of energy and coal industry Eduard Stavitsky (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, UWCTransferBot, CC BY-SA 1.0)

Ben Haim further revealed that former Ukrainian minister of energy and coal industry Eduard Stavitsky, who is also suspected of embezzlement and money laundering, was recently granted Israeli citizenship and is currently residing in Herzliya.

Stavitsky apparently fled Ukraine earlier this year amid a large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement scandal in his country. In a raid on his home after he fled, Ukrainian police found $4.5 million in cash, a number of gold bars, and jewelry estimated to be worth millions of dollars, according to Army Radio.

Stavitsky’s obtaining of Israeli citizenship would appear to breach Israeli law which determines that individuals who are wanted in their home country or who have a criminal record are not entitled to citizenship.

Following the report by Army Radio on Tuesday, police and the Israel Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration
launched an investigation into the two cases.

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