On Tuesday, Ukrainian media reported that the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) had opened criminal proceedings against former top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko over ties to illegal gambling businesses. Lutsenko is suspected of “a preliminary conspiracy with other persons,” who reportedly include former lawmakers and others suspected of contribution in illegal gambling operations in Kiev. The Ukraine abolished most forms of legal gambling in 2009 but unauthorized gambling options continue to flourish.
Lutsenko denied any wrongdoing.
The case against Lutsenko was reportedly launched following a request by a senior member of Ukrainian President’s Vladimir Zelensky’s party, David Arakhamia. According to law, the SBI is required to open a case following such parliamentary requests and the opening of a case doesn’t necessarily indicate that there’s any legal fire behind all this smoke.
Lutsenko’s activities are documented in a whistleblower report about U.S. President Donald Trump, but there is no stated connection between that and the case that Ukrainian investigators have opened in Kiev.
The case against Lutsenko was launched following a request by a senior lawmaker in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party Interfax Ukraine reported. Under Ukrainian law, investigators are obliged to open cases if they are asked to by members of parliament.
A spokeswoman for the state investigation bureau said:
“Criminal proceedings have been opened over suspicions in abuse of power and malfeasance in office by former prosecutor general of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko by assisting illegal gambling businesses.”
Lutsenko said on his Facebook page that “you need to have rich imagination” to accuse him of ties to illegal gambling.
Lutsenko added in a text message to Reuters responding to a question if he felt pressure from authorities:
“It’s business as usual.”