The Imitation Game: Results of the Corruption Investigation of the Yanukovych Regime

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the Executive Director of TI Ukraine
By the anniversary of Yurii Lutsenko as the Prosecutor General, the department under his control has provided activities in the cyberspace astonishing us with weekly sensations on the asset recovery for Ukraine, or lawsuits against the Yanukovych regime. What stands behind – the desire to fulfill the promise given a year ago or the imitation game?
During the last three years, the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, including the Prosecutor General Office, investigated the corruption crimes committed by officials of the Yanukovych regime. Little results of crime investigations against the ex-president Yanukovych and his counterparts are explained by close relations of these parties with the head of the Prosecution Office. Since 2014, the main office located at Reznitskaya street, 4, has changed its head, but there is any significant progress in the investigations.
The day of May 12, 2017. is an anniversary of appointment of Yurii Lutsenko as the head of the prosecution. However, under the leadership of Yurii Lutsenko, similar to his three predecessors, no significant results in corruption investigation of senior members of the Yanukovych regime and recovery of their assets to the state budget has been achieved.
For more than three years, the only outcome of the Prosecutor’s Office and their fight against corruption was the information provided by Yurii Lutsenko (http://bit.ly/2p8OsLk) on the confiscation to the state budget of $1.5 billion owned by the ex-president Yanukovych or his counterparts. Unfortunately, this information cannot be considered as a reliable material (http://bit.ly/2pbIuuc), and the judgment has not been shared with the public in a month.
On the contrary, when Yurii Lutsenko was appointed as the Prosecutor General, the office has closed the proceedings in criminal cases dealing with illicit enrichment of the ex-minister of the Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Mykhola Zlochevskiy. Also, there are no results achieved by NABU which assisted prosecutors in the arrest of nearly $ 23 million, and hold on the account of Mr. Zlochevskyi in London (http://bit.ly/2jgTWUM).
In early March 2017, the list of individuals to whom the European Union has applied personal sanctions includes one of the Yanukovych counterparts, Yurii Ivaniushchenko. The Prosecutor General’s Office did not comment it. Also, we cannot follow the source and the destiny of more than $100 million owned by Yurii Ivaniushchenko arrested in different jurisdictions of Europe (http://bit.ly/2qI9IJ7).
The proceedings of the «Boiko oil rigs» were considered as the proceedings of the “Katsuba oil rigs”, and right now it is not possible to say who is the organizer of this corrupt scheme. Oleksandr Katsuba, a former deputy chairman of “Naftogaz Ukraine” was released after eight months in jail and conducted a plea agreement.
Katsuba was accused of appropriation of funds owned by “Naftogaz Ukraine” of about USD 404 million and about UAH 450 million (approximately USD 56 million) and was accused in the attempt to acquire illegally about UAH 5 billion (about USD 637 million).
Under the plea agreement, Oleksandr Katsuba paid the fine of about UAH 100 million (about USD 3.5 million) and provided evidence about other persons involved in the crime (http://bit.ly/2n1bdnj). The fine is very low in comparison with the damage caused by the criminal activity, and there is also the question related the credibility of testimony given by Oleksandr Katsuba. However, his older brother, Sergii, a deputy chairman of “Naftogaz Ukraine”, was a part of the same criminal proceedings (http://bit.ly/2pgqAGw).
The investigations results and the criminal acts under the Prosecution investigation were not available to the public including the place of permanent residence of offenders and possible location of the stolen assets.
In 2014, Vitalii Yarema, the Persecution General (http://bit.ly/2p0vL1u) commented that there were over 30 investigations on the political corruption of the Yanukovych regime when the assets of suspects were arrested for about UAH 6.2 billion and USD 1.8 billion. At the same time, the progress of the pre-trial proceedings and results of lawsuits against corrupt officials of the Viktor Yanukovych regime and their recovery to the state budget have not been shared with the public.
In spite of the fact that Transparency International asked the Prosecutor General to provide more information on the issue, he supplied us with the fragmented and contradictory information about the criminal proceedings.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has not been able to provide any formation on an open data on criminal proceedings related to crimes committed during the Revolution of Dignity, including updated information on the investigation of every criminal proceeding, pre-trial information, trial cases and court decisions (http://bit.ly/2qCi0CZ). For several months, Transparency International Ukraine has done its best to inform the Prosecutor General (during workshops, in open and official letters) about the need to develop an investigation registry about the corruption cases of the Yanukovych regimes but in vain.
Despite the law requirements of the annual reports provided to the Parliament between 2016-2017, the Prosecutor General did not provide any report of this type.
The Chairman of the global network Transparency International, José Ugaz, visited Ukraine in June 2016 and the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (accompanied by the Prosecutor General, Yurii Lutsenko) asked him to assist the recovery of assets stolen during the Yanukovych regime. (http://bit.ly/2pHvzCK)
However, absence of any information available to the public from the Prosecutor General of Ukraine related to the state of affairs and the structure of arrested assets does not support any effective communication with the international partners and prevent us to develop any further actions.
In July 2017, the United States will lead the first Global Forum on the Asset Recovery, and the main focus will be on such countries as Ukraine, Nigeria, Tunisia and Sri Lanka. (http://bit.ly/1VVpgX7)
Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine do not provide any optimistic solutions on the asset recovery because of the corruption offenses and assets located abroad.
On the eve of the first anniversary of Yurii Lutsenko on the post of the Prosecutor General, the new information was available to the public concerning the termination of search by Interpol of Viktor and Oleksandr Yanukovych, Andriy Klyiev and Eduard Stavytskyi. According to the representatives of the Persecution General Office (no information available in the list of the termination of search by Interpol), this decision was taken due to some drawback in the Ukrainian law. During the last year (according to the representatives of the Prosecutor’s General Office) a complaint to the Interpol was sent by the lawyers of Yanukovych, but no statements about the need for legislative changes, demanded and expected by Interpol, was made.
Should we consider this the sad reality for Ukraine in the context of grand corruption during the Yanukovych regime and recovery of the stolen assets? I would hope that this greater good is not lost. We have to work hard to achieve any result. In order to understand a chance of Ukraine to keep its dignity and finish the investigation of corruption during the Yanukovych regime, Transparency International Ukraine launched a panel discussion at the end of May, attended by a number of international experts, including the chair of the board of the global anti-corruption movement José Ugaz. We invite representatives of the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies who will have a chance to cooperate with the stolen assets recovery initiative and gain new experience. We hope that the invited state leaders will have several free hours to join our discussion and share their views on the issued discussed.