Ukraine anti-corruption agency probes suspected leak

FILE PHOTO: Press conference of anti-corruption authorities dedicated to the detention of Ukraine's Supreme Court head, in Kyiv

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's top anti-corruption officer suspended his chief deputy on Friday while investigators probe a suspected leak inside an agency considered key to the country's push for transparency.

The government is under pressure to clean up graft and prove it can uphold rule of law as it aims to secure EU membership and attract investors to help rebuild from the war with Russia.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) said that director Semen Kryvonos had suspended the first deputy head based on the employee's own admission of "a possible conflict of interests" over an investigation into the leak.

NABU did not provide details about the leak, but a law enforcement source said on Thursday it had compromised a high-profile investigation into a road-building project involving government money.

The agency also did not name the suspended official, who was not implicated in wrongdoing, but its website lists Gizo Uglava as holding that position. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment through a NABU spokesperson.

"We emphasise that the management and staff of the bureau are most interested in conducting a full, comprehensive and impartial investigation into this fact," the agency said in statement.

Ukraine's independent anti-corruption agencies, set up with help from Kyiv's Western partners, have stepped up their work during Russia's invasion, but watchdogs say they still face strong resistance.

Earlier this week, investigators unveiled an investigation into a former deputy presidential adviser suspected of illegal enrichment.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Nick Macfie)