Al Jazeera investigation: why the return of the Yanukovych money was made a state secret in 2017?

On January 10, Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV channel released a document that was dubbed secret in Ukraine – the ruling of the Kramatorsk district court in Donetsk region of March, 28, 2017.

The ruling made it possible for Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko to exercise the $1,5 billion asset seizure to the state benefit last spring. Lutsenko claims that the money belongs to the former president Viktor Yanukovych. Interestingly, the court ruling was classified last year. Why?

The crimes of Yanukovych. Through 2010-2014 “Yanukovych’s criminal enterprise” and its “unit” – the Eastern-European Fuel and Energy Company (SEPEK) – a group of companies owned by Serhiy Kurchenko, were draining the money from the National Bank, Oshchadbank, Naftogaz Ukraine, Agricultural State Fund, and other state-owned companies through falsified agreements. Hundreds of dummy firms in Ukraine were then used to move the money abroad, to the accounts of 10 offshore companies. In autumn 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, accounts of the offshore companies in Ukrainian banks were frozen and remained so until the court allowed the state to confiscate the money from them.

Who has been compromised by the court decision? The main finding the court decision reveals is the scheme that Yanukovych’s “criminal enterprise” used to move the state money out of the country. It turned out that the Investment Capital Ukraine (ICU) was involved in the scheme. Valeria Gontareva served as the company’s head of the board, she later chaired the National Bank between summer 2014 and autumn 2017. Gontareva sold its share in ICU in summer 2014 and left the company.

Moreover, ICU has been servicing the business of the Petro Poroshenko. Since 2014 the company has been following the transfer of Poroshenko’s business into the blind trust, and thus had an offshore company registered on the British Virgin Islands for that purpose.

A question to the President and to the Prosecutor General. A year after the Yanukovych money was confiscated, the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has to explain why the ruling of the Kramatorsk court was classified and whether such prudence demonstrated by the authorities results from the mention of the ICU company that is strongly associated with Poroshenko’s team? The information that the company servicing his business earlier acted to the financial benefit of Viktor Yanukovych will unlikely add him popularity in the President’s seat.