The ex-head of the Ministry of Health was arrested in absentia. He is suspected of embezzling over UAH 450 million

Currently, Maxim Stepanov is not in Ukraine.
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The High Anti-Corruption Court has placed former Minister of Health Maxim Stepanov, whom NABU and SAP suspect of embezzling over 450 million UAH while he headed the state enterprise “Polygraphic Plant Ukraine,” in absentia detention. This information was reported by NABU.

“Unfortunately, Stepanov is abroad, he left earlier this year,” – commented on the impossibility of arresting the former minister NABU.

Background

NABU and SAP, together with Estonia and France, exposed a corruption scheme involving 450 million UAH. Former Director of the state enterprise “Polygraphic Plant Ukraine,” former Minister of Health Maxim Stepanov, and six other individuals have been charged with embezzlement.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, in a joint investigative group with the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Central Criminal Police of Estonia, as well as the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office and the Financial Judicial Investigation Service of France, uncovered a scheme involving the misappropriation and laundering of 450 million UAH.

According to the investigation, the former director of “Polygraphic Plant Ukraine” organized a scheme to misappropriate 450 million UAH from the enterprise during 2013-2016. Maxim Stepanov headed the plant during those years. In 2013, he acquired an Estonian company called Inte Graph International FZE through proxy individuals, Igor and Alexander Illenki (father and son), who were long-time business partners of Stepanov.

This Estonian company supplied document blanks (Ukrainian citizen passports, ID cards, driver’s licenses, etc.) to the plant but acted as an intermediary since other companies were the actual manufacturers. The Estonian company sold blanks to the Polygraphic Plant at 4-6 times their actual value. This scheme caused approximately 450 million UAH in damages from 2013 to 2016.

Maxim Stepanov is also accused of money laundering. According to the investigation, Stepanov disguised the sale of 45% of his shares in an offshore company (which was essentially non-operational) to another controlled company for 1.35 million dollars, where the Estonian company transferred the funds. He then declared these assets, effectively gaining the ability to use them. A portion of the funds, amounting to 150,000 dollars, was transferred directly to the accounts of Stepanov’s close associates.

Additionally, Stepanov patented intellectual property rights for protective elements used in Ukrainian passports through the controlled company. This meant that every citizen, when obtaining documents, not only overpaid due to inflated procurement costs but also paid the official for his “intellectual contribution.” The scheme involving intellectual property was exposed in 2022 upon NABU’s initiative, and the Cabinet of Ministers changed the technical requirements and images of protective elements in Ukrainian documents.

What is known about Maxim Stepanov?

Maxim Stepanov’s biography is rich in appointments, with his career spanning from a medical education to heading the Odesa Regional State Administration.

According to the official biography on his social media page, Maxim Volodymyrovych was born in 1975 in the Amur Oblast, in the city of Skovorodino. He graduated from Donetsk National Medical University in 1998 with a degree in surgery and from Kyiv National Economic University in 2004 with a degree in international economics.

From 1999 to 2001, he served as the Deputy General Director of the “Trading House Gas Ukraine” of the NJSC “Naftogaz Ukraine.”

From 2003 to 2004, he worked in the State Tax Administration of Ukraine.

From 2011 to 2016, he managed the “Polygraphic Plant Ukraine,” which printed official documents.

From 2008 to 2010, he served as the First Deputy Chairman of the Odesa Regional State Administration and returned to the same position in 2017, later becoming the Chairman of the Odesa Regional State Administration after winning a competition in 2016. In 2017, he took over the region, succeeding Mikheil Saakashvili.

He is married to Natalia Stepanova and is raising a son and a daughter.

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