Umland: Offshore scandal before referendum in the Netherlands doesn’t benefit Ukraine

Source : 112 Ukraine

The expert suggests creating a commission to verify Panama Papers
12:38, 5 April 2016

The Panama Papers scandal before Ukraine-EU Association referendum in the Netherlands doesn’t benefit Ukraine, informed political scientist Andreas Umland in an interview to “112 Ukraine”.

“I think, the problem is that Poroshenko’s name turned up in Panama Papers. The issue is that Panama is a very controversial country in this relation. Financial transactions, President of Ukraine is involved in, might have been carried out, for instance, in the UK, Switzerland or the EU. The fact that these companies have been registered in offshores in Panama is a little suspicious”, - Umland stated.

According to the expert, such scandals clearly give opposition a “variety of instruments” to speak against the President. “Summoning an expert commission to verify these papers would be the right thing to do in order to assess legal and ethical sides of everything that is happening”, - Umland said.

He also noted, that the fact that Panama Papers have been disclosed right before Ukraine-EU Association Agreement referendum is very damaging to Ukraine. “This is a very bad time, because tomorrow the Association referendum is going to take place. The fact that Ukraine is involved in the scandal is very unfortunate”, - Umland added. 

Earlier, journalists and dozens of media all over the planet simultaneously released materials about owners of large offshore businesses. The investigation is based on the so-called Panama Archive, the selection of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca, Panama-based low-profile company.  

The documents reveal activities of the company from 1977 till December 2015; they unfold stories about offshore mechanisms of concealing billions of dollars, involving former and current heads of states, and other famous political figures and celebrities. Among them are President Petro Poroshenko, ex-Prime Ministers Pavlo Lazarenko and Yulia Tymoshenko. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau stated that it refuses to investigate Poroshenko’s offshore activity.

Meanwhile, a consultative referendum on Ukraine-EU Association Agreement will take place in the Netherlands on April 6. The Netherlands has finalized the ratification of Ukraine-EU Association Agreement in July 2015, but the Dutch can still vote on it in a referendum. The results of the referendum will be recognized if 30% of Dutch citizens participate in it. The referendum is funded by the Dutch government, which allocated €30 million for its organization. The proposed referendum question is the following: Are you “for” or “against” the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement?

There are several scenarios according to which the events may unfold after the referendum. First of all, there’s a chance that the results of the referendum will not be recognized, in case the turnout amounts to less than 30%. Sociologist forecast a turnout of over 40% of citizens.

In case the Dutch vote against the Association, government of the Netherlands must submit it for consideration of the parliament. The parliament has options to either approve or cancel it. If citizens of the Netherlands vote for the Association, it will come into force.  

Related: Panama Papers: Ukrainian politicians involved in offshore operations

Related: Referendum in Netherlands: On April 6 the Dutch to cast their opinion on Ukraine-EU Association

Related: The Dutch prepare for upcoming referendum on Association Agreement

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