Fiscal terror or investment. Ukraine's tough call

Author : Igor Smolov

Source : 112 Ukraine

2021 began with the creation of new law enforcement agencies. So, the end of January was marked by the creation of the Bureau of Economic Security (BEB). The Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on the creation of this law enforcement body to replace the State Fiscal Service
23:09, 9 March 2021

Open source

For years, the so-called "fiscal" has been trailed by notorious fame and a chain of corruption scandals.

The Ministry of Finance assures: "The reform of the State Fiscal Service is an important step towards building a high-quality system of administration of taxes and fees. And it will increase the transparency and accountability of the work of tax and customs authorities."

Time will tell whether this will really happen, but business representatives do not share the hopes of the Ministry of Finance. Earlier, the approval of the draft law on BEB in the first reading caused a negative reaction from the business.

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"Outraged by the large size of the staff of the new law enforcement agency, endowed with the right to use special means, including firearms, employees of the BEB, who have special ranks. This can be used to put pressure on business and continue the notorious traditions of the" mask show," Natalia Artemchuk, the coordinator of the tax committee of the European Business Association, notes.

"In fact, the agony of the tax police is taking place now, which in the last days of its existence is trying to somehow earn some crumbs that it will not be able to earn in the future, for the reason that the body will be liquidated and all its employees will be fired. There is enough. the unrestricted behavior of tax police officers today, which is expressed in direct pressure on business through searches, illegal sealing of warehouses, blocking of the activities of an enterprise, attempts to seize accounts, systematic calls of directors, accountants for questioning. from such directors," lawyer Maksym Borysov says.

Meanwhile, while criminal cases of corruption, embezzlement of funds, and abuse of office remain unsolved, the suspects have not received a court verdict for years - the SFS continues to put pressure on the business. In particular, companies in various directions, from the pharmaceutical industry to the agro-industry, are under pressure.

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For example, the pharmaceutical company Vorwarts Pharma faced such a situation. Remarkable is the time of active actions of the State Fiscal Service – on the eve of the New Year holidays, and the style of the so-called "work": sudden searches. We managed to talk with representatives of the company, which has experienced pressure from the SFS employees and is not afraid to talk about it.

Serhiy Boyko, a representative of the owners of Vorarts Pharma LLC, says:

“We didn’t know, no one informed us, it was an absolute surprise. In the middle of the day, about 10 people broke into the office. In the style typical for this kind of events, all employees were asked to leave their offices, and they began to read the court order.”

They kept them all day, frightened the staff, who barely begged the investigators for a phone to call their relatives and friends.

Employees of the State Fiscal Service behaved as they wanted and violated the law, the lawyers recall. And they note: this behavior is explained, in particular, by the lack of punishment for crimes.

“In our state the practice of bringing law enforcement officers to justice is very low. Law enforcement officers can allow themselves to violate almost any law. In addition to the facts of receiving a direct bribe, no other violations, as a rule, reach the court. And they put on the brakes. In our state, there are only a few criminal cases sent to the court for exceeding the official powers of law enforcement agencies. We are fighting for these persons to be brought to justice, but so far there are no prerequisites for this,” lawyer Maksym Borysov is convinced.

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We turned to the SFS for a comment. In the content of the answer, the fiscal authorities do not deny that they conducted searches at Vorwarts Pharma, however, they refer to the fact that the data of the pre-trial investigation cannot be disclosed.

Independent experts also noticed large corruption risks in the fiscal sector. They recently presented the results of strategic analysis on assessing risks and threats to financial security. Doctor of Law Oleksandr Korystin analyzed the main threats and weaknesses: the two most significant threats are VAT fraud and tax minimization schemes. Out of a total of 119 indicators characterizing the ability or vulnerability of the fiscal system, two stand out:

  • the level of capacity available to establish tax evasion "schemes";
  • the level of personal stability of the personnel of the fiscal system to abuse of office ".

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SFS employees find successful Ukrainian companies and try to profit from them for themselves - emphasizes Maksym Borysov, a lawyer with many years of experience:

“Naturally, the tax police see tax reporting in front of them, sees a company with high turnover and, naturally, understands who can be blocked from activities in order to obtain unlawful benefits. In this case, it was just such an approach. And having received a court decision on the seizure of documents, the tax The police illegally confiscate products worth about UAH 150 million, which has nothing to do with tax evasion. After that, the tax police, having no right at all, seals the warehouse. The law directly prohibits any obstruction of the use of the premises by any law enforcement officers. gone.”

Will this moral pressure stop after the liquidation of the SFS and with the start of the work of the Bureau of Economic Security?

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