On August 15, the Selection Board for the head of Asset Recovery and Management Agency was supposed to identify the winner of the competitive selection, yet, none of the seven candidates got the necessary six votes to be elected. Now, it is up to the Cabinet of Ministers what will happen with the competition next.
Such a decision is balanced and absolutely legal because the primary task of the commission members is to find a professional manager with a high level of integrity. If none of the candidates meets these requirements, the commission has the right not to support anyone.
In the opinion of TI Ukraine, the long wait for the new head of the Agency is justified, since there are high risks of inappropriate management in the event of the appointment of one of the current applicants. A similar position was voiced in the European Union. Head of EU Delegation to Ukraine Matti Maasikas emphasized that it is important that the ARMA be headed by “a person with the necessary professional competencies, including a high level of integrity. If this can only be achieved by re-announcing the selection process, the EU will have full understanding for such an approach”.
Why did the commission not find a worthy candidate?
The competition was problematic from the beginning. The commission was formed on the third attempt. Later, the members of the commission dragged out the publication of the procedure for conducting the competition and the regulations of their work until the deadline for submitting documents. As a result, only 12 lawyers submitted documents. This is extremely low participation compared to other contests. For example, in 2019, 32 candidates applied for the position of head of the NACP, and in 2020, 111 applied for the position of the chief anti-corruption prosecutor.
During the interviews, there were persistent doubts concerning the candidates’ integrity and professionalism. Dmytro Zhoravovych, the current acting head of the ARMA, and the former head of the ARMA’s legal directorate Andrii Potiomkin, were faced with questions concerning their dubious professional achievements during their time with the agency. On the other hand, Volodymyr Pavlenko (former deputy head of the ARMA) and Iryna Humeniuk (former head of the Central Interregional Territorial Administration of the ARMA) had issues regarding their involvement in criminal proceedings.
TI Ukraine also analyzed all the candidates and concluded that most of the candidates do not sufficiently meet the criteria of integrity and professionalism.
What are the next steps?
The Cabinet of Ministers must decide to re-announce the competition, while the commission may remain in the same composition.
It is also necessary to analyze the errors of this selection and change some approaches; in particular, the commission should:
1. Ensure full transparency of their activities and candidates’ access to the documents that regulate the conduct of the competition.
2. Review the order and regulations of its work, in particular, add clearer criteria for evaluating candidates, especially their integrity.
3. Provide test questions on knowledge of general and special legislation on an appropriate level, which will help to assess the candidates’ knowledge.
TI Ukraine has repeatedly said that the ARMA must be headed by an independent, honest leader. The Agency manages a lot of funds and expensive assets. They need to be transparently and effectively sold or managed.
During the ARMA’s work, its leaders were repeatedly in the spotlight of scandals. For example, former head of the Agency Anton Yanchuk is currently suspected of embezzlement of over UAH 426 million from the sale of seized assets. In addition to him, other employees of the Agency are involved in the case.
The long wait for the new head of the Agency is justified, since there are high risks of inappropriate management in the event of the appointment of one of the current applicants