Yesterday, the Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA) selected a manager for Mezhyhiria. During the meeting, which was open to media and the public, the Tender Committee selected TOV “Skompani.” Journalists discovered that TOV’s director, Okelsandr Voronenko, was in fact a former assistant of Yevhen Muraiev, a people’s deputy with pro-Russian views who is a frequent “expert” on 112 and NewsOne TV channels. Certainly, it is nonsensical that a person with such values and background would become a manager of Mezhyhiria only 5-years after Yanukovych fled Ukraine.

Did ARMA meet its legal obligations? Yes.

Generally, the procedure selecting a manager for any seized assets is pretty simple. There are qualification criteria which should be demonstrated by the company: availability of material and technical capacities and equipment, relevant qualifications of employees, experience of asset management, satisfactory financial conditions, etc.

TOV “Skompani,” with 1 million UAH in authorized capital, met all of the requirements, namely: it submitted documentation of its activities, it presented their program of asset management (unfortunately, without concrete figures), and it demonstrated the company’s relevant experience (including the sphere of public catering).

Recall that ARMA was struggling to find a Mezhyhiria manager for more than a year. Due to difficulties with the search, the State Investigation Bureau even commenced criminal proceedings under Article 367 “Service Negligence.”

Should members of the Tender Committee have taken into consideration the quality of the proposed management program and “additional” information about the manager? In my opinion, of course they should have.

It is definitely necessary to change the procedures and laws which allow for such decision-making which result in the transfer of historically and socially important objects and property to companies whose leaders do not have impeccable reputations. Unless the Tender Committee revises its decision, it will not be long before the selected manager will begin to inventory the property within Mezhyhiria territory and prepare to sign the contract to receive the property for management.

And then, the story of Mezhyhiria will become even more symbolic of our country.

This publication has been prepared with the financial support of the European Union. Its content is the sole responsibility of Transparency International Ukraine and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Transparency International Ukraine works with the National Agency within the project Enhancing the Role of Civil Society in Public Finance Oversight, financed by the European Union. The project aims at empowering civil society and journalists with effective anti-corruption, asset recovery and anti-money laundering tools to perform the public finance oversight, support the launch of Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA) and to update the list of Politically Exposed Persons. Find out more at https://goo.gl/Jgr9ic

It is definitely necessary to change the procedures and laws which allow for such decision-making which result in the transfer of historically and socially important objects and property to companies whose leaders do not have impeccable reputations.

Andrii Borovyk, ED