US funds not misused in Ukraine, US Treasury says, amid corruption crackdown

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles in Ukraine's Donetsk region, on Jan 30, 2023, PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - The United States Treasury Department on Tuesday said it had no indication that US funds had been misused in Ukraine, but would continue to work closely with Ukrainian authorities to ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to avert corruption.

It was the Treasury’s first comment on the issue after Ukraine’s government last week dismissed a slew of senior officials in the country’s biggest political shake-up of the war following corruption allegations.

“We have no indication that US funds have been misused in Ukraine,” Treasury spokesman Megan Apper said in response to a query from Reuters.

“We welcome the ongoing efforts by the Ukrainian authorities to work with us to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place so that US assistance reaches those for whom it is intended.”

Ms Apper said the Treasury would continue to work closely with the World Bank on tracking US disbursements “to confirm that they are used as intended, as well as with Ukraine and other partners to tackle corruption”.

Democratic and Republican US lawmakers last week praised Ukraine’s government for taking swift action against corruption and insisted that US military and humanitarian aid to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government should continue.

Ukraine has a long history of corruption in state-owned or managed companies. Mr Zelensky has repeatedly said there will be no tolerance for fraud or waste.

The World Bank has disbursed over US$13 billion (S$17 billion) to Ukraine through its Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance (Peace) in Ukraine, as at December, much of it coming from the US.

Peace funds are disbursed to Ukrainian authorities a month after bank officials have verified that they have paid salaries to teachers and civil servants and pension payments, which helps safeguard against problems.

The bank last month told Reuters it is working with Ukraine to improve its already well-regarded E-Government Procurement System called ProZorro, adding that the digital system would help ensure transparency, integrity and ease of access.

Ukraine ranks 116 out of 180 countries on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index released on Tuesday by Transparency International, up one ranking from 2022.

Its score on the index was 33 on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean. REUTERS

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