Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Bank loan for bridge may have financed election

AP , KIEV

Part of a large European bank loan given to Ukraine's former government has gone missing, news reports said.

One-third of the US$700 million loan that Deutsche Bank provided last year for the construction of a railroad bridge across the Dnipro River in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, is unaccounted for, Deputy Transport Minister Zenko Aftanaziv said Thursday, according to the Interfax and Unian news agencies.

No one from the Transport Ministry or Deutsche Bank could be reached for comment Friday.

``The construction [of the bridge] has been launched, but there is no money,'' Aftanaziv was quoted as saying. He added that the bridge will ``have to be completed, but it's unclear under what terms,'' Unian reported.

The missing loan is under investigation by state inspectors, prosecutors and the state security agency, Aftanaziv said.

Former President Leonid Kuchma's government gave Deutsche Bank AG a state guarantee for the credit in October.

Kuchma's Transport Minister Heorhiy Kirpa, who helped attract the loan, was found dead with a gunshot wound in December. His critics alleged that he helped engineer voting fraud in Ukraine's presidential election, and that he may have been involved in siphoning off ministry money to fund former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's failed presidential bid.

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