A court in Kyiv has overturned January's decision of the Ukrainian government to dismiss “big fish” and former head of the State Fiscal Service (SFS) Roman Nasirov, who was indicted by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on corruption charges, it was reported on December 6.
Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities allege that Nasirov provided restructuring of rent payments for gas production companies associated with fugitive Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandr Onyshchenko.
Nasirov is accused of giving an order that cost the state budget UAH2bn (€70mn). In March, Nasirov was released from custody in Kyiv after his wife posted the UAH100mn (€3.5mn) bail.
His arrest was seen as a litmus test for Ukraine’s anti-corruption fight as he was named as the first “big fish” caught in the NABU net.
"The court decided to declare unlawful and cancel the order of the cabinet and reinstate him. The decision on reinstatement is immediately enforceable," Nasirov's lawyer Liubomyr Drozdovsky told Interfax news agency on December 11. "Even the filing of the appeal and consideration does not stop the implementation of this decision."
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government is going to challenge the court's ruling, according to a lawmaker Vadym Denysenko, who represents Petro Poroshenko Bloc faction in the cabinet. "The government made an absolutely legal decision to dismiss Nasirov and, of course, will appeal against the decision to reinstate him," Denysenko wrote on his Facebook page on December 11.
Ukraine’s parliament has sanctioned the criminal prosecution, detention and arrest of Onyshchenko, a member of the Volia Narodu (People’s Will) parliamentary group, in connection with alleged fraud schemes with gas sold together with the Ukrgazvydobuvannia gas company.
Onyshchenko, who denies any wrongdoing, fled Ukraine and announced his intention to seek political asylum in the UK. On December 1, 2016, Ukraine’s SBU security service said it had put Onyshchenko on the national wanted list for treason.
According to NABU’s statement, the pre-trial investigation of the Nasirov case was completed in July, after which Nasirov and his defence lawyers have been examining the investigation materials for more than three months.
However, independent experts point out that the agency's activities bring little result, and mainly aimed at PR effect, specifically, due to political ambitions of its head Artem Sytnyk.
Earlier this year, Sytnyk was involved in a bitter conflict with head of another Ukraine's anti-corruption body, the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) Nazar Kholodnytsky. NABU accused the latter of alleged law violations during criminal investigations.
At the same time, Sytnyk was forced to reject accusations of wrongdoing after he reportedly visited the president’s private home for a late night meeting, which was slammed by local experts as a move, which "creates enormous suspicions and casts doubts on Sytnyk’s integrity".