Ukraine anti-graft court closes case against figure Zelenskyy branded 'smuggling kingpin'
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The High Anti-Corruption Court decided to close the criminal proceedings against Odesa businessman Vadym Alperin, whom President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called "one of the godfathers of smuggling in Ukraine", reported the Anti-Corruption Action Center on Thursday.

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As in the case of the recent closure of the "Rotterdam+ case" , the defense used the so-called "Lozovyi amendments", which limited the time limits for pre-trial investigation, allowed conducting expert examinations only on the instructions of an investigating judge or court, extending the time limits for pre-trial investigation by investigating judges and authorizing them to cancel charges. The bill was slammed by the then-head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office.

"The defense filed a motion to close the case, insisting that the "Lozovyi amendments" should be applied to this case and it should be closed, because the investigation period was allegedly extended by an unauthorized entity," AntAC reported.

The Alperin case concerned the importation of goods with a reduced customs value to avoid paying taxes.

In addition to Alperin, there are five more defendants in the case, including the former director of the Department of Customs Payments Administration of the State Fiscal Service Alina Skomarova (Danchenko) and the ex-deputy head of the Kyiv Customs Serhiy Tupalskyi.

Detectives began investigating this case in September 2017. The charges to Alperin and a number of other persons involved in the case were served in November 2019. Damages from just one episode amount to 77 million hryvnias ($2.9 million), the investigation estimates the total damages at half a billion hryvnias ($18.9 million).

Alperin was not accused of smuggling, because it is decriminalized in Ukraine, but of creating a criminal organization, tax evasion and abuse of position.

On April 4, 2021, the National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions against alleged "smugglers". Alperin was also on the list.

On April 14 of the same year, Alperin and several other people from the list were deprived of citizenship by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.