Imitation game: Results of investigation regarding Yanukovych's corruption

Author : Yaroslav Yurchyshyn

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For more than three years law enforcement bodies of Ukraine, especially Prosecutor General Office, have been investigating crimes of corrupted Yanukovych officials
20:35, 16 May 2017

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To the anniversary of Yuriy Lutsenko’s work as Attorney General, the department under his control becomes considerably more active in cyberspace, creating a weekly sensation – either regarding return of corrupt former regime assets, or regarding investigation of Yanukovych regime crimes.

What is behind this activity: the desire to fulfill his one-year-ago promise or the imitation game?

For more than three years law enforcement bodies of Ukraine, especially Prosecutor General Office, have been investigating crimes of corrupted Yanukovych officials. The lack of visible results of investigations of such crimes of ex-president and his entourage was quite often associated personally with the head of the prosecution.

Since 2014 the main office on the Riznytska Street changed its fourth head, but measurable change and significant progress in the investigation, unfortunately, is still not visible.

May 12, 2017 turned one year from the time when Yuriy Lutsenko took the top job in the system of prosecution.

However, under the direction of Yuri Lutsenko, like his three predecessors, no significant results in investigation of Yanukovych regime senior members’ corruption was achieved.

In fact, the only achievement of the prosecution for more than three years of investigations of corruption crimes was the recent news from Yuriy Lutsenko about the confiscation to the state budget of US $ 1.5 billion belonging either Yanukovych or his controlled entities. Even now this information raises more questions than answers, and the text of the judgment in violation of the order is not being made public for over a month.

Instead, in the days of Lutsenko Prosecutor General's Office closed the criminal proceedings for illicit enrichment of former Environment Minister Mykola Zlochevsky.

At the same time there are no results of NABU investigation on the circumstances of prosecutor’s assistance in lifting the arrest of nearly 23 million, which were kept at the bank account of Zlochevsky in London.

In early March 2017 from the list of those for which the European Union applies personal sanctions, was excluded one of the closest allies of Yanukovych - Yuriy Ivanyuschenko. We also don’t understand well the fate of more than $ 100 million belonging to Ivanyuschenko and were arrested in different jurisdictions of Europe.

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Court proceedings about Boyko firstly turned on proceedings against Katsuba and it is not at all clear who will be attributed to the organization of this corrupt scheme. Oleksandr Katsuba, former deputy chairman of "Naftogaz Ukraine" after eight months of detention in early March was released, concluding a deal with the investigation.

Katsuba was accused of appropriation of Naftogaz Ukraine funds in amount of 404 million dollars and nearly 450 million hryvnia (about 56 million US dollars at the time of exchange) and in the attempted acquisition of more than 5 billion hryvnia (about 637 million at the time of exchange).

Under the agreement with the investigation, Oleksandr Katsuba just paid the fine of UAH 100 million - about 3.5 million US dollars at the time of payment) and provided evidence exposing other persons involved in the crime.

Besides the obvious incomparable amount of fines paid to the size of damage caused by criminal activity, there is also the question regarding the value of testimony given by Oleksandr Katsuba. However, his older brother Serhiy, who at one time worked as deputy chairman of "Naftogaz Ukraine" to date is wanted in the same criminal proceedings.

Back in 2014, Vitaly Yarema, who was then Attorney General, declared more than 30 investigations initiated on the facts of corruption of Yanukovych era political elite, whose assets of over 6.2 billion UAH and 1.8 billion USD were arrested. At the same time, progress and results of investigation regarding corrupted officials of Viktor Yanukovych and return of the money to the state budget cause not less public interest.

However, even on the direct requests of Transparency International, Prosecutor General now provides fragmented and sometimes even contradictory information concerning such criminal proceedings.

Alongside this, the General Prosecutor’s Office already has experience in the formation of an open register of criminal proceedings for offenses committed against the Revolution of dignity, which is periodically updated information on the investigation of every criminal proceeding, notice of suspicion, submitting incriminating acts to justice and the results of trials on them.

Transparency International Ukraine for a few months is trying to say to the prosecution leadership (both during working meetings and in public appeals and official letters) on the need to create such a registry of investigation corruption crimes of Yanukovych times – but without results.

Moreover, despite the requirements of the law concerning annual reporting to Parliament in 2017, our Attorney General personally provided this report so far only in the form of the picture.

During a visit of chairman of Transparency International global network Jose Ugaz in June 2016 to Ukraine president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the meeting, which was attended by Attorney General Yuriy Lutsenko asked him to facilitate the return of stolen by regime of Yanukovych assets.

However, the offishness and the absence of any public information from the Prosecutor General of Ukraine on the dynamics of specific investigations and the structure of arrested assets does not allow to built an  effective communication with our international partners and development of concrete joint actions with them.

Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine do not give grounds for optimism in relation to the return of assets obtained as a result of corruption offenses and withdrawn abroad.

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In addition, on the eve of the first anniversary of Yuriy Lutsenko at the post of the Prosecutor General public found out about the termination of Interpol searching of Viktor and Oexander Yanukovych as well as Andriy Klyuyev and Eduard Stavisky. Official information from Interpol about the reasons for termination wasn’t published.

According to representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office, a decision was taken due to the imperfection of Ukrainian legislation on taking precautions for individuals who are wanted. However, in the last year - according to representatives of the GPO, the period for considering the complaint of Yanukovych - no statements about the need for legislative changes in accordance with Interpol were heard at the office.

Does this sad story mean that Ukraine has already lost everything in the context of exposing massive corruption of Yanukovych times and returning the stolen money to the budget?

To consider this issue, Transparency International Ukraine in late May, organizes international expert discussion, which will be attended by a number of top international experts, including the chairman of the global anti-corruption movement Jose Ugaz.

The representatives of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, which will not only receive valuable experience, but also pre-arrange cooperation regarding the funds stolen in Ukraine, are also invited.

We hope that the invited heads of state bodies will be able to find in their schedules several hours in order to join the discussion, share their vision on the mentioned problems and try to find ways to solve them together.

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