As of the beginning of March 2018, two hundred Ukrainian officials were charged with corruption and 160 more were under investigation, thanks to joint work of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, reported Artem Sytnyk, Director of NABU, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“After three years of work, our colleagues did not betray the values and the mission declared at the beginning. Our detectives successfully passed the test both by psychological pressure and big money. During these three years, they succeeded to do something that the whole Ukraine’s law enforcement system could not do for more than 20 years – they started bringing to account those who were ‘untouchable’. Four or five years ago one hardly could imagine an investigation against top-officials from the Accounting Chamber, from the Central Election Commission, State Audit Service, or State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. Now, these people are caught on corruption, there is evidence and the majority of cases are passed to courts. And there will be far more cases against corrupt officials from a number of ministries, MPs, judges, and directors of big state enterprises,” said Artem Sytnyk.
At present, the NABU has 650 staff members, including 250 detectives, 200 specialists from Special Operations Department and Technical Operative Department, the others are officials. NABU will announce the last recruiting campaign for detectives in early May.
Artem Sytnyk called misunderstandings between the NABU and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office “an imagined conflict” and said it had no impact on their work. “Both institutions have passed to court twice as many cases as in the previous two months. Let’s remind the recent case against one ofthe top-officials from the Prosecutor General’s Office, as well as a judge from one of Kyiv courts who was arrested just a day ago, an official from the Security Service of Ukraine, arrested yesterday,” noted Artem Sytnyk [dates referred to are April 23 and April 24]. He added that the latter arrest marked the completion of NABU’s operation which was disrupted in December 2017. The arrested SBU official took a $47 thousand bribe for not revealing facts he knew about bribe givers – that they were going to receive residence permits in Ukraine illegally.
Artem Sytnyk also announced that the report on the independent technical assessment of NABU and SAPO work, made by international experts in October-December 2017, has already been published. The expert group consisted of four experts: two representatives of the Office of the Inspector General, US Department of Justice – Carol Taraszka and Eric Johnson, Council of Europe anti-corruption expert Flemming Denker, and Ukrainian anti-corruption expert Dmytro Kotlyar. They analyzed the work of both institutions according to criteria of effectiveness and independence.
According to the report, NABU’s key achievements are the creation of a professional and devoted team, efficient Internal Control Unit and close cooperation with the Civil Oversight Council. Experts reported multiple attempts of external pressure on the NABU, especially in the end of 2017, but did not find signs that these attempts were successful. They also found no indications that NABU’s and SAPO’s investigations were influenced by improper interests. Experts did not find any serious procedural mistakes, human rights violations, or widespread practice of abuse within the NABU. However, experts mentioned that it is too early to give a comprehensive assessment of NABU’s and SAPO’s efficiency before a number of cases where the accused deny their guilt are completed by courts.
Among high priority recommendations requiring external actions are: to authorize the NABU to directly intercept telecommunications without relying on any other agency and provide to the NABU the full access to the data of officials’ asset declarations; avoid changes to the legislation regulating the work of the NABU and the SAPO without prior consultations involving the civil society, experts, representatives of the NABU and the SAPO and other law enforcement agencies; to transform the SAPO into an autonomous public prosecution office and limit the Prosecutor General’s influence on its operation; to strengthen capacity of courts analyzing NABU’s pretrial motions, and establish the new High Anti-Corruption Court.
“The establishment of an independent anti-corruption court will become a point of no return in the anti-corruption reform. For this court not to become a mere formality, it is important to take into account recommendations of the Venice Commission and other experts. If the High Anti-Corruption Court will be created, we will finally see progress with cases which have already been passed to court. Unfortunately, there is no progress at present,” Sytnyk noted.
The full text of the Assessment is available here.