27 AUGUST 2023
After the Ukrainian Parliament approves President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s suggestion to equate wartime corruption with treason, the Ukrainian government also plans to let the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), and not just the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), investigate crimes of corruption if the sum exceeds 24 million hryvnias [about US$650,000 – ed.].
Source:ZN.UA’s sources in the Ukrainian President’s Office; NABU; Ukrainska Pravda sources in NABU
Details: As reported by ZN.UA with reference to a source in the Ukrainian President’s Office, it was originally planned to “introduce changes to the law under which all cases of corruption being investigated in the national defence sector exceeding 24 million hryvnias should be investigated by the SSU”, and it was proposed that corruption cases involving sums less than 24 million hryvnias be left to NABU to investigate.”
Thus the government would show people that now, during the war, large-scale corruption would be equated to treason under the law. Therefore the punishment will be more severe: the sentences will be longer, and there will be no bail,” the source added.
They also stated that after the reaction of Western partners who made it clear that they consider this decision to be an “attempt on the independence of the anti-corruption system”, the President’s Office changed this idea.
Currently, the idea is not to deprive NABU of the right to conduct major anti-corruption investigations, but to grant this right to the SSU as well.
“Legal changes have been worked out under the guidance of the relevant deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. These include initiating amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine with the goal of making corruption schemes involving more than 24 million hryvnias subject to investigation by the SSU,” the source revealed.
One of the investigative journalists remarked in a comment to ZN.UA that experts in the anti-corruption sector may understand the real motivation behind these changes.
“The SSU, which is completely controlled by the authorities, will be in charge of investigating large-scale corruption cases in the government instead of NABU, which is not controlled by the government,” the journalist explained.
In turn, an anonymous senior official from NABU believes that “it is a bad idea”.
“It would be then possible to take any case away from NABU on a legal basis; Ukraine will lose plenty of cases in the European Court of Human Rights, since mandatory pre-trial detention would violate the convention; in addition to this, relations with international partners will worsen. Pre-trial detention is not punishment, everyone keeps getting confused about this. What is more, 90% of results in the fight against corruption are achieved through administrative measures aimed at preventing it, not at investigating existing cases. If this bill is passed, there will be trouble,” the source added.
Ukrainska Pravda’s sources in NABU confirm the information about the government’s plans to give the SSU the right to investigate corruption cases involving sums of over 24 million hryvnias.
Background: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated in an interview on 27 August that he intends to submit a bill equating wartime corruption to treason.