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Ukraine finance minister denies tax evasion after probe launched

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk denied on Monday an accusation of tax evasion from a lawmaker that has led to an investigation by prosecutors.

Ukraine's finance minister Oleksandr Danylyuk speaks to a Reuters journalist during an interview in London, Britain July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Files

Danylyuk, a former investment manager who has also served as a deputy head of President Petro Poroshenko’s administration, said “all taxes were paid on money I earned”.

“I very much hope that this is not politically motivated and is not revenge for what was done to block corruption schemes, to prevent the embezzlement of the budget and ineffective use of public funds,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into Danylyuk’s finances at the request of lawmaker Tetiana Chornovol, Ukrainian media reported on Monday.

Chornovol is a member of former Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s “People’s Front” party. Danylyuk became finance minister after Yatseniuk’s ousting in April 2016.

Earlier in July, Chornovol said she had asked prosecutors to investigate Danylyuk for alleged tax evasion between 2010 and 2014, when he was head of a state reforms body.

Under Ukrainian legislation, prosecutors must investigate allegations if requested by members of parliament.

Since becoming finance minister, Danylyuk has voiced his support for reforms required under a $17.5 billion bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund.

Ukraine has seen an exodus of reformist voices from official positions that has raised serious doubts about the Western-backed government’s commitment to eliminate graft and the power of vested interests on policy-making.

Last week, ex-Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, who served as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in a move he condemned as an attempt by Poroshenko to stifle political opposition.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams