Kiev (AFP) – Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators on Thursday told AFP they were looking into whether former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko took cash from Moamer Kadhafi’s regime in Libya for a presidential campaign.
NABU, Ukraine’s anti-graft office, said it had started “studying” information potentially linking Tymoshenko to the acquisition of “four million euros and its subsequent use to finance her election campaign” in 2010.
If it finds “any signs of crime”, NABU said a judicial investigation would be opened.
Tymoshenko, still a member of parliament, is among the top candidates for Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election, ahead of current President Petro Poroshenko according to the latest polls.
She served as prime minister twice between 2005 and 2010 but failed to win the presidential election won that year by pro-Russian candidate Victor Yanukovych.
In a February issue of the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat, an “assistant” of Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, said he had personally traveled to Ukraine to hand over the funds to Tymoshenko.
“I had them in a briefcase and I travelled to Ukraine on a private jet. I arrived at Kiev airport and delivered the case to the deputy prime minister,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Tymoshenko rejected the claims, telling AFP: “This information does not correspond to reality. It is nonsense.”
Following the 2010 presidential election, Tymoshenko was imprisoned for abuse of power in a case denounced as selective justice by the West.
She was released after the overthrow of Yanukovych following the pro-Western uprising in February 2014, coming in second in the presidential election three months later.
During a visit to Ukraine in 2008, Kadhafi met Tymoshenko in his Bedouin tent set up in the centre of Kiev. He was killed in Libya in October 2011 by rebels.
In France, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been charged over suspected illegal financing and corruption involving the former Libyan.