BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and Ukraine are planning to set up a joint anti-corruption investigative team by next month to tackle potential misuse of EU funds for Kiev, said an EU official involved in setting up the unit.
The 28-nation EU has disbursed 1.61 billion euros ($1.77 billion) in loans to Kiev since 2014, and plans to pay out a further other 1.8 billion euros in the coming months as part of a support package to help stabilise Ukraine’s economy.
Other EU funds are spent in Ukraine on humanitarian aid and technical assistance for projects aimed at reforming the administration or increasing energy security.
The unit, the EU’s first to tackle fraud in a beneficiary country, would be composed of both Ukrainian and EU detectives, and have a temporary mandate. Indictments would remain the prerogative of Ukrainian authorities, however.
“We are discussing a team of 30 to 40 detectives with an annual budget up to 5 million euros,” said the EU official, who declined to be named.
He said the European Commission was likely to formalise the proposal in June, opening the way for an agreement to be signed with Ukraine. He said it might be possible to send a smaller team out before all the formalities were complete.
Reporting By Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Kevin Liffey