Scan­dal plagues agency to pre­vent cor­rup­tion

Kyiv Post - - National - BY OLEG SUKHOV

Since its for­mal cre­ation in March 2015, the Na­tional Agency for Pre­vent­ing Cor­rup­tion has been scan­dal-rid­den and has been re­peat­edly ac­cused of fail­ing to carry out any of its du­ties. The agency de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tions, pre­sent­ing its achieve­ments as a gen­uine anti-cor­rup­tion re­form. Here are some of the scan­dals that have dogged the agency:

• The NAPC was set up in 2015. How­ever, civil so­ci­ety groups crit­i­cized the se­lec­tion of the agency’s top of­fi­cials, say­ing that the com­pe­ti­tion was rigged in fa­vor of loy­al­ists of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and the Peo­ple’s Front party. The groups sued the gov­ern­ment over al­leged pro­ce­du­ral vi­o­la­tions.

Olek­siy Ho­rashchenko­v, a Pres­i­den­tial Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial ac­cused by top NAPC of­fi­cial Hanna Solo­matina of man­ag­ing the NAPC be­hind the scenes, and Deputy Jus­tice Min­is­ter Natalia Sevos­tianova, who has re­vealed ex­trav­a­gant wealth in her own as­set dec­la­ra­tion, are mem­bers of the com­mis­sion that chose the NAPC’s lead­er­ship.

• In 2016 the NAPC and the State Ser­vice for Spe­cial Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion were re­peat­edly ac­cused of de­lay­ing and sab­o­tag­ing the launch of the e-dec­la­ra­tion sys­tem – a claim that they de­nied. The sys­tem was fi­nally launched in Septem­ber, but ini­tially failed to func­tion.

• NAPC Chief Natalia Kor­chak has also faced crit­i­cism for award­ing to her­self bonuses worth about $20,000 in April to Septem­ber 2016. Mean­while, in Fe­bru­ary 2016 the agency started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into former cus­toms of­fi­cial Yu­lia Maru­shevska, an as­so­ciate of ex-Ge­or­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvil­i, over an $18 bonus.

• The Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) hid its as­set dec­la­ra­tions both from the public and the NAPC, claim­ing they were state se­crets, in what crit­ics saw an ef­fort to hide cor­rupt wealth. NAPC of­fi­cials gained ac­cess to th­ese dec­la­ra­tions only re­cently, and it is still not clear whether they can prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate them. More­over, in April the dec­la­ra­tions of more than 200 pros­e­cu­tors and judges dis­ap­peared from the dec­la­ra­tion reg­is­ter. The NAPC said that the mea­sure was nec­es­sary to pro­tect them as of­fi­cials pros­e­cut­ing and try­ing crim­i­nal cases. The e-dec­la­ra­tion site has gone off­line many times. Both the State Ser­vice for Spe­cial Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion, which runs the site, and the NAPC were ac­cused by civic ac­tivists, in­clud­ing the chief of the Dec­la­ra­tions Un­der Con­trol watch­dog, Sasha Drik, of in­ten­tion­ally tak­ing it off­line, as well as in­ter­fer­ing with the e-dec­la­ra­tion sys­tem for un­known pur­poses.

• Ear­lier this year the NAPC faced crit­i­cism for re­peat­edly de­lay­ing the com­ple­tion of dec­la­ra­tion checks. As of now, out of 1.5 mil­lion as­set dec­la­ra­tions, only 91 dec­la­ra­tion checks have been com­pleted.

The NAPC has also been slow to get ac­cess to gov­ern­ment reg­is­ters, which is nec­es­sary for dec­la­ra­tion checks. In this case, both the NAPC and other state agen­cies were ac­cused of sab­o­tage, which they de­nied.

• Cur­rently, dec­la­ra­tions are be­ing checked “in man­ual mode,” not au­to­mat­i­cally. The NAPC’s ex-Chief of Staff Ihor Tkachenko told the Kyiv Post that the “hu­man fac­tor” in man­ual dec­la­ra­tion checks has a “non-ob­jec­tive” char­ac­ter and leaves room for ma­nip­u­la­tion. The agency has been ac­cused by Tkachenko, Drik and oth­ers of con­stantly block­ing since last year the in­tro­duc­tion of an au­to­matic sys­tem of dec­la­ra­tion checks that would make it more ob­jec­tive and less politi­cized.

• The NAPC has so far failed to pur­sue cases against any ma­jor bu­reau­crats or politi­cians. The agency has found pun­ish­able vi­o­la­tions only in sev­eral mi­nor of­fi­cials’ as­set dec­la­ra­tions, while claim­ing that not a sin­gle min­is­ter or top of­fi­cial had vi­o­lated the as­set dec­la­ra­tion law. The NAPC said on Nov. 10 it had found seven crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions in the dec­la­ra­tions it had checked. Some of the high­est-rank­ing of­fi­cials in whose dec­la­ra­tions crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions were found in­clude Yevhen Samoilenko, an ex-judge of Luhansk Oblast’s Krasny Luch city court, and Rus­lan Tre­bushkin, mayor of the city of Pokrovsk in Donetsk Oblast.

• As a re­sult of the scan­dals at the NAPC, top of­fi­cials have been quit­ting the agency. Vik­tor Chu­mak, who was ap­pointed to the NAPC’s col­lec­tive lead­er­ship in 2015, re­fused to work, cit­ing po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on the agency. Rous­lan Ri­a­boshapka, another mem­ber of the col­lec­tive lead­er­ship, quit in June, say­ing the NAPC had been com­pletely dis­cred­ited due to its fail­ure to check as­set dec­la­ra­tions, and called for the ap­point­ment of new lead­er­ship. In Au­gust Rus­lan Radet­sky, also a mem­ber of the col­lec­tive lead­er­ship, re­signed af­ter a crim­i­nal case was opened against him. In re­cent months Tkachenko and top NAPC of­fi­cials Ser­hiy Semin and Ro­man Smyk fol­lowed suit. Solo­matina, head of the NAPC’s depart­ment for fi­nan­cial and life­style mon­i­tor­ing, first sub­mit­ted her res­ig­na­tion but then with­drew it.

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