National Anti-Corruption Bureau chief accuses Ukraine’s courts of actively working against his new agency

National Anti-Corruption Bureau chief accuses Ukraine’s courts of actively working against his new agency
By Ben Aris in Berlin August 21, 2017

Ukraine’s court are actively working against the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and are engaged in a “complete sabotage” of cases that they receive from the new agency as well as from the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, bureau director Artem Sytnyk said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty published on August 20, reported Concorde Capital.

A quarter of the cases haven’t been opened at all, he alleged, and the few verdicts have only involved secondary figures in corruption cases.

There has also been no visible action on the most high profile case yet. The now suspended head of Ukraine's State Fiscal Service and close ally of President Petro Poroshenko, Roman Nasirov, was indicted early this year as the first “big fish” to be arrested on corruption charges.

His case was supposed to be heard in August, but as yet there is no date set for it to start. Moreover, the Ukrainian office of the international anti-corruption network Transparency International has filed a lawsuit demanding the dismissal of Nasirov after he turned up at work earlier this month.

Transparency International said they are afraid that while in the office Nasirov could have access to sensitive documents and destroy evidence against him. The statement followed media reports that Nasirov visited his office on August 4. 

“The fact that the criminal offense was committed while the suspected official was in his post, it is expected that, while continuing to use the office and power, the suspect has the ability to destroy or counterfeit evidence and documents or to influence witnesses and other parties of the criminal proceedings,” Transparency International warned.

Sytnyk cited hearings in the charges against former MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko, who is connected to the same corruption case as Nasirov, which occur once every two months but should be held daily and completed inside three months.

Sytnyk repeated his calls for the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Court, which was one of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform demands for this year, but has fallen by the wayside in the meantime.

“Despite not having a response from the justice minister, we still have no reason to doubt Sytnyk’s claims. Their timing could be aimed at convincing key Western officials to prevent President Poroshenko from succeeding in avoiding the creation of an independent anti-corruption court, which is fully backed by Ukraine’s NGO community and pro-Western reformers. It will be a scandal if Poroshenko is allowed to bypass the court’s creation and secures the next IMF tranche without it,” Concorde Capital analyst Zenon Zawada said in a note.