Ukraine investigates former top prosecutor over involvement in illegal gambling

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko attends a news briefing on security measures during the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, Ukraine March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian investigators said on Tuesday they had launched criminal proceedings against former top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko over ties to illegal gambling businesses. Lutsenko denied any wrongdoing.

Lutsenko’s activities are documented in a whistleblower report about U.S. President Donald Trump, but there is no stated connection between that and the case that Ukrainian investigators have opened in Kiev.

The case against Lutsenko was launched following a request by a senior lawmaker in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party, Interfax Ukraine reported. Under Ukrainian law, investigators are obliged to open cases if they are asked to by members of parliament.

“Criminal proceedings have been opened over suspicions in abuse of power and malfeasance in office by former prosecutor general of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko by assisting illegal gambling businesses,” a spokeswoman for the state investigation bureau said.

Lutsenko said on his Facebook page that “you need to have rich imagination” to accuse him of ties to illegal gambling.

“It’s business as usual,” Lutsenko added in a text message to Reuters responding to a question if he felt pressure from authorities.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Ilya Zhegulev; Editing by Angus MacSwan