October 14, 2014 was the birthday of the anti-corruption ecosystem. We remember the events of that time, when the whole country supported the new system with transparent and fair procedures.
Then, the Verkhovna Rada passed a number of anti-corruption laws:
- “On Corruption Prevention,”
- “On the National Anti-Corruption Bureau,”
- “On the Principles of the National Anti-Corruption Policy in Ukraine (Anti-Corruption Strategy) for 2014—2017,”
- “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts Concerning the Determination of Final Beneficiaries of Legal Entities and Public Figures,”
- “On Prevention and Counteraction to Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime, Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
Let’s remember which of them work, what has changed, and what has remained on paper.
The Law of Ukraine “On Corruption Prevention”
It was supposed to replace the Law of Ukraine “On the Principles of Corruption Prevention and Counteraction.” The government believed the previous law to be ineffective. It provided for a comprehensive reform of the anti-corruption system in accordance with international standards and recommendations, the content and application of preventive anti-corruption tools, provisions for the elimination of the consequences of corruption offenses and the establishment of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention. In addition, it provided for the creation of a public Unified State Register of e-Declarations where public officials had to file their asset declarations in the electronic format for subsequent verification and criminal liability for intentional failure to file the declaration or false information.
The draft law also provided for a number of mechanisms to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest, up to and including the dismissal of an official due to a conflict of interest.
Law “On the National Anti-Corruption Bureau”
According to the Law, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau is a state law enforcement body that is responsible for preventing, detecting, terminating, investigating and disclosing corruption offenses within its competence, as well as preventing the commission of new ones. The task of the Bureau is to counteract criminal corruption offenses committed by senior officials authorized to perform the functions of state or local self-government, which pose a threat to national security. It is also established that: The National Anti-Corruption Bureau is established by the President of Ukraine; the Director of the National Bureau is appointed and dismissed by the President with the consent of the Verkhovna Rada; The Verkhovna Rada, upon the proposal of at least one third of the MPs, may decide to dismiss the Director of the National Bureau in certain cases.
Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts Concerning the Determination of Final Beneficiaries of Legal Entities and Public Figures”
It established a mechanism for identifying the ultimate beneficial legal entity, as well as free access to the State Register of Property Rights. The adoption of the draft law should have significantly complicated the possibility of legalization of proceeds from crime, as all legal entities under private law will be required to indicate the final beneficiary — an individual.
Law “On the Principles of the National Anti-Corruption Policy in Ukraine (Anti-Corruption Strategy) for 2014—2017”
It identified a set of priority measures aimed at reducing the level of corruption in Ukraine and forming a basis for further anti-corruption reforms. It envisaged, among other things, the introduction of a transparent public procurement system in Ukraine, openness of publicly important information (state registers opened after the adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy), elimination of corruption risks in the judiciary and the creation of a business climate conducive to avoiding corruption.
Law “On Prevention and Counteraction to Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime, Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”
It provided for the establishment of a threshold for international money transfers and financial monitoring of Ukrainian public figures and officials. In addition, it was proposed to introduce a number of measures aimed at combating the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The explanatory note also states that the adoption of this draft law was to confirm Ukraine’s European course.
Today, the Law “On Combating Legalization” from 2014 is no longer in force. There is a new one, “On Prevention and Counteraction to Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime, Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” passed at the end of 2019.
These laws not only launched anti-corruption reform, which resulted in the creation of the NABU and NAPC. They have become the foundation for many other anti-corruption initiatives, including innovative ones.
Recently, however, instead of continuing to move actively forward, we are fighting harder to protect existing gains.
Appeals against the decisions of the Anti-Corruption Court in courts of other jurisdictions, endless attempts of some MPs to declare most of the anti-corruption laws unconstitutional and two open vacancies of heads of anti-corruption bodies (SAPO and ARMA) are just the tip of the iceberg.
The fight goes on.