December 9 is Anti-Corruption Day. 2023 is passing, and despite the active war, this struggle also continues. This is clearly visible at least from the news headlines, which almost every day shout about exposed plots and abuses among officials, famous or not.

Statistics also confirm the effectiveness of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. They are the ones arranging joint unexpected visits to government offices. In the first half of the year alone, NABU and SAPO commenced 286 investigations and notified of 137 suspicions, including 7 judges and 8 deputies. 39 defendants were convicted.

In this article, we have collected the loudest suspicions of this year. We started with high-profile deals in the Ministry of Defense, and ended with corruption exposed in Kyiv Court of Appeal. So, who was caught by “anti-corruption people in black?”

Scandalous procurements by Lozynskyi

On January 21 NABU and SAPO detained First Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development Vasyl Lozynskyi who was acting minister at that time.

Lozynskyi is suspected of receiving a $400 thousand bribe. Investigation says it was for assistance in procuring generators and other equipment at inflated prices. That equipment was allegedly intended for people during the most difficult months of blackouts, and the Cabinet of Ministers allocated UAH 1.68 billion for that.

Round-the-clock house arrest was later replaced with the detention or UAH 50 million bail as an alternative. In a few months, the amount of bail was reduced from 50 million to 2.5 million, and on July 21, Lozynsky’s detention was canceled, leaving only bail.

Top-level corruption: $1.8 bribe for Kniazev

On the evening of May 15, NABU-SAPO caught the then chairman of the Supreme Court (the highest judicial instance in Ukraine!) Vsevolod Kniazev on receiving a $ 2.7 million bribe.

According to investigators, Kniazev conspired with notary Kyrylo Horburov and lawyer Oleh Horetskyi. The plot was in the interests of oligarkh Zhevago and his company, Poltava Mining and Processing Plant. Kniazev estimated his services at $1.8 million.

The judge is suspected of a crime that could result in a sentence of up to 12 years in prison along with the confiscation of his property. First, Kniazev was sent to a pre-trial detention center with an alternative of UAH 107 million in bail. But during the time of detention, the bail has already been reduced five times. Now it is UAH 27 million.

Is whistleblower Sennychenko a likely bribe taker?

On March 22, NABU notified of suspicion of ex-head of the SPFU Dmytro Sennychenko. Presumably, he led a criminal group that in 2019-2021 seized UAG 500+ million from state-owned enterprises such as Odesa Portside Plant and the UMCC, among others.

As per investigators, Sennychenko and his associates ensured that individuals took leading roles within these enterprises. Subsequently, these appointed individuals sold products at reduced prices, siphoning off the monetary difference in favor of the criminal group. Now the defendants are suspected of laundering more than UAH 10 billion, and Sennychenko is wanted without an interim measure being applied.

The most interesting thing is that in 2020 Dmytro Sennychenko proven as a whistleblower of corruption for turning down multimillion-dollar bribes. As later claimed by the NABU, the ex-official did this to create an appropriate image and eliminate competitors in the framework of a criminal plot.

A new circle of suspicions to Mykytas

In October 2023, ex-MP and developer Maksym Mykytas received another suspicion. This time, he was charged with embezzling UAH 307 million from the Defense Ministry, which was intended for the construction of protected warehouses for storing missiles and ammunition for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to investigators, companies controlled by the MP signed construction contracts with the Ministry of Defense totaling more than UAH 3 billion in 2018. Mykytas contributed to the conclusion of amendments to the Cabinet resolutions thus ensuring 307 million of the reward for himself. The planned construction has never been started.

Mykytas was under round-the-clock house arrest but detention has never been applied. Now the developer is one of the record holders for the number of suspicions.

The first bribe in cryptocurrency

On November 21, NABU-SAP caught MP Andrii Odarchenko on an attempt to bribe the head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine Mustafa Nayyem. For the first time in Ukraine’s history, the bribery subject was a cryptocurrency, specifically 0.39 BTC, which equates to $10 thousand.

Mustafa Nayyem himself became the whistle blower. Odarchenko was taken into custody with an alternative of UAH 15 million of bail, which he paid in a few days and left the pre-trial detention center. Recently, he was again seen in the Parliament.

NABU-SAPO received information about the exposure of People’s Deputy Serhii Labaziuk on the same day Odarchenko was detained. Labaziuk allegedly attempted to bribe the Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, and again Mustafa Nayyem. Labaziuk similarly paid bail of nearly UAH 40 million and was subsequently released from custody.

“Bribe throwing champion” Marchenko

On July 11, MP Liudmyla Marchenko was notified of suspicion. Perhaps she took bribes for introducing men of military age to the PATH system.

NABU detectives shared a video in which the MP tried to throw an “advance” that she took from her husband over the fence of a private house. All this happened before law enforcement officers arrived at her place.

The MP was required to pay UAH 53 thousand of bail, and the indictment against her may be sent to court soon.

From the General Headquarters to pre-trial detention in three days

On November 20, the NABU targeted on former leaders of the State Special Communication Service, ex-head Yurii Shchyhol and his deputy Viktor Zhora. They were dismissed on the same day before the news of suspicion was made public. Shchyhol was removed from the General Headquarters of Commander-in-Chief Zelenskyi.

The investigation believes that in 2021-2022, officials transferred more than UAH 285 million for software to two companies and did that secretly without holding an open bidding. The real cost of the software allegedly amounted to UAH 223 million, so ex-officials could have seized UAH 62 million.

The HACC took Shchyhol into custody with the option to pay 25 million UAH of bail. Soon he was also released from the pre-trial detention center. Interesting fact that MPs Mykhailo Kriachko and Oleksandr Fediienko wanted to bail Shchyhol. Fediienko was convinced that “Shchyhol was detained on the basis of “unclear correspondence”.

Corruption in Kyiv Court of Appeal

On November 29, four judges of Kyiv Court of Appeal were caught on receiving $35 thousand. Those judges were Yurii Slyva, Viktor Hlynianyi, Ihor Palenyk, and Viacheslav Dziubin.

The investigation found that money had to encourage the judges to lift the arrest of AN-74ТК-100, the unique aircraft operated by Ukrainian Constanta airline. This and another identical aircraft appear in criminal proceedings regarding obstruction of the legitimate activities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Judge Dziubin was the mediator, and the rest made a corresponding decision. All judges, except Dziubin (the petition against him will be considered next week), were arrested with the alternative of bail. Judges Slyva and Hlynianyi have already managed to get out of custody.

Another suspicion to Dubnevych

In October, NABU-SAPO issued another suspicion against People’s Deputy Yaroslav Dubnevych, this time for the alleged theft of gas amounting to over UAH 2.1 billion and the subsequent legalization of the acquired profits.

They notify the MP in absentia since he is on the national and international wanted lists. According to investigators, the missing MP organized a plot to seize gas for Novoiavorivsk and Novyi Rozdil thermal plants at low prices.

As it turned out, more than 450 million cubic meters of “preferential” gas from two thermal power plants were used to generate and sell electricity at market prices, although the latter was supposed to go to the needs of the population.

Dubnevych also appears in corruption plots to steal UAH 93 million on procurements by Ukrzaliznytsia.

It should be noted that an individual is considered innocent of the commission of a criminal offense and may not be subjected to criminal punishment until their guilt is proved in a lawful manner and established by a court conviction. Therefore, all the people mentioned in this material are now not considered guilty, but only have the status of suspects.

Summing up the results

This year was indeed rich in corruption scandals. And on the one hand, it annoys Ukrainians when they learn about yet another plot during a brutal war. On the other hand, this development is optimistic as it signifies the revelation of corruption, making it progressively challenging to conceal such misconduct.

At the end of 2023, MPs increased the staff of NABU and SAPO, and also partially canceled the “Lozovyi’s amendments”. These changes are meant to improve the effectiveness of the anti-corruption system. However, regrettably, their full impact won’t be felt in ongoing cases as judges retain the power to close them based on the investigation period’s expiration.

It’s important to understand that enhancements to anti-corruption bodies won’t yield immediate results; rather, they represent a crucial stride toward securing economic growth.

Therefore, Ukraine continues to fight corruption, and we at TI Ukraine are closely monitoring that process. We firmly believe that the fight against corruption will become even more relevant in the coming year.