Ukraine ex-pol accused of falsely declaring gambling winnings


ukraine-lyashko-lying-sports-betting-winningsUkraine’s corruption watchdog is accusing a former politician of lying to the government about winning over $21k worth of sports bets.

On Monday, the Kyiv Post reported that an aide to Oleksandr Novikov, chief of Ukraine’s National Agency for Prevention of Corruption (NAPC), had posted on Facebook that former lawmaker Oleh Lyashko had lied about winning sports bets in an official government asset declaration in 2017.

Lyashko’s declaration included claims of three winning football wagers with Favorit Sport, a betting subsidiary of the Ukrainian National Lottery (UNL), worth a total of Hr571k (US$21,300). But the NAPC claims that the UNL denied paying out any winnings to Lyashko, nor did the UNL recognize the receipts for the alleged winnings that Lyashko submitted along with his declaration.

Lyashko (pictured), who was an MP from 2006 to 2019, told the Post that he’s filed a tax evasion complaint against the UNL, based on his view that the company has been fudging its figures to reduce its tax bill. Lyashko said he keeps all his betting receipts “and the firms that received money for bets should pay taxes instead of lowering or hiding income from bets from tax authorities.”

The UNL has yet to comment on the NAPC’s claims. The NAPC has sent its files on Lyashko to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), a separate entity from the NAPC that prepares cases for prosecution and which opened a probe into Lyashko’s finances in 2018.

Ukraine is currently attempting to update its land-based and online gambling rules, but progress has been hampered by dithering over everything from tax rates to the minimum gambling age (21 years in the latest draft). In February, legislators submitted around 3,500 amendments to the gambling bill, leaving the legislation bogged down in procedural minutiae even before the COVID-19 crisis became the only thing anyone is talking about.