The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Asset Recovery and Management Agency — three different bodies of the anti-corruption ecosystem, which are united by a common challenge — competitive selection for the position of the head.
And while the SAPO competition lasts more than two years and barely shows signs of life, the NABU competition is just beginning to show them, then the competition for the election of the ARMA head has reached the stage of interviews with candidates only in 2.5 years.
The ARMA is a service body of the anti-corruption ecosystem and criminal justice bodies. And in the conditions of war, it also plays a significant role in the process of tracing, finding, and management of russian assets.
And it is crucial that the selection of the head of the institution is transparent because this will ensure the election of a worthy candidate. The Agency should be headed by an independent and honest manager.
The previous stages of the ARMA competition were problematic. During the reception of documents, there were no procedure for conducting the competition and the rules of procedure for the work of the selection commission. And the test task on knowledge of general and special legislation included mediocre questions that did not allow to sift out weak candidates. So, there are questions about the quality of further selection.
Transparency International Ukraine has verified the integrity of candidates applying for the position of the ARMA head. We have analyzed 10 candidates on the basis of information available in open sources, state registers, declarations, media reports, official responses of state bodies, reports of public and international organizations, and autobiographies of candidates.
So, let’s get to know the main candidates.
1. Oleksandr Vizhunov
Position: Director of the Department for Restoring Solvency and Termination of Enterprises Activities of the State Property Fund. Previous work experience consists mainly of legal positions in the banking sector.
Assets: together with his wife, Vizhunov owns two apartments in Kyiv (with a total area of 126.2 sq.m.) and a parking place, as well as an apartment in Odesa (44 sq.m.).
Moreover, in July 2020, the candidate’s wife received the right to own a residential building with an area of 58.6 sq.m., located in the village of Shpytky, Kyiv oblast, worth UAH 205,500, and a land plot with an area of 247 sq.m., worth UAH 20,600. At the same time, in 2020, the wife did not receive income, with the exception of interest from the deposit in the amount of UAH 13,034 and available savings.
The selection commission should clarify with Vizhunov the sources of the wife’s funds for the payment of real estate. In addition, it should be noted that the declared price of the property does not correspond to its market value.
2. Vitalii Vlasiuk
Position: Deputy Head of the Kyiv Regional State Administration, worked as a lawyer at the time of submission of documents for the competition.
From 2017 to 2020, the candidate held the position of deputy chair of the ARMA Public Council. It was during this period that Anton Yanchuk was the head of the Agency, who was recently served with charges of abuse of power and embezzlement of more than UAH 426 mln.
Vlasiuk is also the head of the Asset Tracing and Recovery Association. Among the founders of this organization is Volodymyr Pavlenko, ex-deputy of Vitalii Syhydyna, ARMA head.
Assets: in the declaration for 2020, the candidate has intangible assets — 2 types of cryptocurrency: 4 BTC worth UAH 4.5 mln and 7 ETH worth UAH 2 mln. The declaration for 2018 did not include these assets, so they were probably acquired in 2019-2020.
The selection commission should inquire about how Vlasiuk received the cryptocurrencies. As well as ask the address of the crypto wallet or other information that would confirm the presence of such assets.
Besides that, attention should be paid to the civic and expert position of the candidate. He actively posts on his Facebook page and other social networks criticizing the work of the ARMA, the NACP, and its leader.
3. Iryna Humeniuk
Position: until recently — Head of the Central Interregional Territorial Administration of the ARMA.
During 2010-2018, she worked as a deputy chief of staff of the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine. At the same time, for a certain period, the court was headed by Viktor Tatkov, a person involved in the case of interference with the automated case distribution system. Currently, he is hiding from the investigation, and some of Tatkov’s seized assets were transferred to the ARMA.
Assets: according to the declaration for 2019, Humeniuk’s husband owned a 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan car. In the declaration for 2020, the car is not indicated, the income from the alienation of the car is not indicated (in the declarations for 2019/2020).
The selection commission should clarify why Humeniuk, as deputy chief of staff, did not notice impudent interference in the Unified Judiciary Informational Telecommunication System of the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine when she worked there.
There are also questions about the assets owned by the candidate’s family members. Based on the information from the declaration, it is not known where is the vehicle.
Moreover, the media have repeatedly talked about unreasonably high bonuses and perks for the high-ranking management of the ARMA, including during martial law. Therefore, it is worth asking the candidate what kind of remuneration she received, for example, during the period of work from February 24, 2022, as the head of the Central Interregional Territorial Administration.
4. Dmytro Zhoravovych
Position: currently acting head of the ARMA. Since July 2019, he has been the head of the Agency’s North-Eastern Interregional Territorial Department.
Assets: the candidate and his wife (judge of the Economic Court of Kharkiv oblast) own houses and land plots in the village of Pechenihy, Kharkiv oblast. This is a recreational area of the Pechenihy Reservoir.
In the declarations for 2019 and 2020, the corporate rights that were previously declared by the candidate were not declared. In addition, legal entities whose beneficiary under the declaration for 2018 was Zhoravovych are not indicated.
According to the Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center, the candidate was the head of the religious community in the Myrrhophores Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Kharkiv until November 2017. The construction of this church was financed by Oleksandr Shyshkin (ex-senator of the rf, a member of United Russia who voted for the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) and Pavel Fuchs (a Ukrainian-russian entrepreneur who has common interests in the real estate sector in moscow).
In 2007-2012, the candidate’s wife worked as an assistant-consultant to MP Oleksii Leliuk (the Party of Regions). Leliuk held the position of the Head of the State Reserve for two years and had a deputy mandate in the Party of Regions faction, contrary to the laws and the Constitution of Ukraine. Moreover, activists and journalists of the online publication “Nashi Hroshi” note opaque public procurement under the leadership of Oleksii Leliuk with inflated prices.
The selection commission needs to clarify the fate of assets (corporate rights) because they may have been sold. In such a case, this should have been indicated in the candidate’s declaration.
The commission should also find out in what relationship Zhoravovych was or is with Shyshkin and Fuchs, given that the activities of these two persons are related to russia.
What is more, it is worth asking why the price of the house and the land plot owned by Zhoravovych and his wife is ten times less than the market value.
As with the previous candidate, there is information from the media about the unreasonably high bonuses and perks. Therefore, it is worth asking the candidate what kind of remuneration he received during the period of work from February 24, 2022, as well as why in the last months of 2019 he was receiving salaries as temporary acting head of the ARMA in sky-high amounts (> UAH 400,000).
5. Yurii Martyniuk
Assets: among other things, the candidate’s wife owns an apartment with an area of 84 square meters in Sevastopol.
In 2016-2017, Martyniuk worked as a chief legal advisor at Arcelor and got in conflict. The company tried to evict residents of one of the districts of Kryvyi Rih to expand its own enterprise. According to local media, none of the residents agreed to move due to the illegal actions of the company. Besides that, the local MP then stated there was a conspiracy between local authorities and Yurii Martyniuk.
The selection commission should clarify information about the apartment in Sevastopol: who looks after it, whether the candidate and his wife visited the occupied territories. It is also necessary to establish the source of other funds indicated in the declaration as income from business activities. It is important to find out how Martyniuk solved the conflict with the resettlement of residents, and whether he really was in collusion with the local authorities.
6. Volodymyr Pavlenko
Position: lawyer, ex-deputy head of the ARMA.
Assets: according to the declaration for 2018, in 2016, Pavlenko acquired the ownership of a garden house with an area of 33 square meters in Kyiv and a land plot under it with an area of 585 square meters. At the end of 2021, before his dismissal from the ARMA, the candidate declared another right to use the same property, which belonged to Olena Dashkovska. At the same time, income from the alienation of property to Dashkovska was not declared. Therefore, the commission should clarify this situation with the candidate.
Pavlenko is involved in a corruption case regarding the embezzlement of USD 400,000. According to the SBI, during August-December 2020, he, together with the interim acting head of the ARMA, Vitalii Syhydyn, in collusion with lawyers and Ihor Korol, probably embezzled funds transferred to the management of the ARMA.
The Pecherskyi court chose an interim measure for Pavlenko in the form of night house arrest, which later was changed to a personal obligation. Subsequently, the former deputy head of the ARMA called the actions of the investigators to be pressure, which involved the dismissal of the Agency’s management. The case is now being considered in the High Anti-Corruption Court.
The selection commission should be interested to learn Pavlenko’s position on the circumstances of the case, under which he was served with charges and suspended from office, and also, how the presence of such criminal proceedings can affect his work and the work of the ARMA because the newly appointed leader is expected to be independent and honest.
In June 2021, Pavlenko was the victim of an attack, fortunately unsuccessful. Someone shot him with a firearm. It is necessary to clarify with the candidate what the attempt on life was connected with. Whether it concerned Pavlenko’s work at the ARMA.
7. Andrii Potiomkin
Position: lawyer, ex-head of the legal department of the ARMA.
According to the media, the candidate was involved in a corruption scheme for the transfer of assets, including those of the ex-minister of revenues and duties Oleksandr Klymenko (several floors of the Gulliver shopping center in Kyiv, a base for hunting and amateur fishing in Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi) to the companies of his twin brother, Volodymyr Potiomkin. In contracts with companies of Volodymyr Potiomkin, it is his brother Andrii who is the head of the tender committee of the ARMA.
In November 2019, the candidate published information that he had submitted applications for damage to the statue of an eagle from the apartment of the ex-minister of revenues and duties Oleksandr Klymenko in the ARMA to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the SAPO, the National Police, the SBI, and the NABU, and “Nashi Hroshi” confirmed this. Thus, Potiomkin started a public confrontation with ARMA’s ex-head Anton Yanchuk, which led Yanchuk to suspend the candidate from his duties.
Recently, the NABU and SAPO served Andrii Yanchuk, ex-head of the ARMA, Vitalii Riznyk (ex-head of the asset management department of the ARMA central office), as well as three other persons involved in a corruption scheme with charges of abuse of power and embezzlement of more than UAH 426 mln. It was at the same time that Potiomkin worked as the head of the legal department of the ARMA, as well as was the chair of the tender committee at the Agency.
It would be advisable for the selection commission to receive a comment from Andrii Potiomkin on the situation with the assets that were transferred to his brother.
The candidate should clarify whether he knows the current status of the investigation into the statue proceedings and how he assesses this situation.
It is also interesting to hear the candidate’s opinion on the management of assets that recently appeared in the NABU and SAPO case, as a result of which five persons, including Potiomkin’s former colleagues, were served with charges. The candidate should clarify his role in making decisions about assets that led to the opening of a criminal case.
8. Oleh Rybka
From 2018 to 2020, he was an MP of the Horodnia City Council of Chernihiv oblast, head of the commission on law enforcement, law and order, corruption prevention, and urban development. At the same time, the candidate lived and carried out entrepreneurial activity in Kyiv.
Assets: the candidate and his wife have savings in the amount of UAH 5.6 mln and UAH 390,000. In addition, Rybka has savings of UAH 4.5 mln, lent to third parties. Accordingly, the candidate should specify when and from what sources/income he and his wife managed to form such assets.
The selection commission should ask why the candidate decided to be a member precisely of the Horodnia City Council and also how Rybka worked there while actually living in Kyiv.
9. Oleksandr Rudenko
Position: lawyer, head of the Legal Association “RO LEKS.”
In 2020, he submitted the declarations of a candidate for various positions four times: Deputy Prosecutor General — Head of the SAPO, Director of the BES, Director of the SBI, and Head of the ARMA. Prior to that, the candidate had not held a position in the civil service.
Assets: in May 2019, he received a loan in the amount of UAH 1.7 mln. At the same time, the declaration states that he lent UAH 2.8 mln to third parties.
The selection commission should be interested in the circumstances in which Rudenko received and provided such assets to third parties. In addition, it is worth clarifying why Rudenko decided to apply for such positions, so different in their functions.
10. Oleksandr Sydorzhevskyi
Position: Last known place of work (until September 2021) — head of the department of the Investigation Office of Financial Investigations in the Main Department of the SFS in Kyiv Oblast
Assets: the candidate has repeatedly stated that he uses cars that do not belong to him. For example, in early 2016, Sydorzhevskyi acquired for use a 2005 Mercedes-Benz S 221, owned by Maksym Tsaruk. And at the end of 2017, he acquired for use a 2007 AUDI Q7, the owner of which is Oleksandr Rudzei.
The commission should clarify the basis for the acquisition of this property for use and the candidate’s relations with the owners.
Ten candidates and only one will be the winner. But how honest and independent? The head of the ARMA, like the head of any other anti-corruption body, must have excellent professional and moral qualities. However, there are questions regarding integrity to each of the 10 applicants.
Among the candidates, there are many people involved in the work of the ARMA. At the same time, some of them were involved in corruption scandals. Others have problems with the declaration, potential ties with russian capital, or facts of violation of the law. Substantial answers to our questions would be able to refute or vice versa confirm some assumptions.
The Agency should be headed by an independent and honest manager.