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Odessa courts – Is justice blind only in one eye? It takes two to tango

October 19, 2015

Somewhat unusually, the courts in Odessa seem to have found in favour of the taxpayers of Odessa.

It is the usual nefarious tale of opaque tenders, corrupted procurement, and more than dubious decisions from the Committee of Competitive Bidding whereby the taxpayers of Odessa lose, local communities lose, and corrupt and grubby deals hope, and usually do, go without notice.

The Odessa Regional Prosecutor’s Office, on behalf of the Odessa Regional State Administration, applied to the Economic Court of Odessa to quash the decision of the Committee of Competitive Bidding and Procurement relating to the award of a UAH 42 million contract to build a new school to accommodate 300 pupils in Rozdilna.

At issue, both the time of bidding and also at the time of contract award, was the fact that the Oblast budget had not the UAH 42 million for the contract, the contract winner to build the school had no equipment, no qualified building staff, and in no way met the qualification parameters for those entities that tendered for the contract.

In short, other than the company existing on (legal) paper, and thus having directors, it otherwise simply did not exist in any tangible sense – and certainly had no experience, nor way, to actually build the school had budgetary funds (eventually) reached it.

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Readers may ponder whether the contract winning company would then hurriedly try to find a sub-contractor to actually do the work (skimming a healthy profit), or simply disappear once the funds were awarded and nefariously split said funds between all those involved in grotesquely perverting the procurement system.

As the decision of the Odessa Economic Court follows a sentencing by the (notoriously corrupt) Primorsky District Court of one of the company directors under Article 1 – 336 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine -Forgery – readers may perhaps lean toward the latter of these options.

So all’s well that ends well for a change in the courts of Odessa?  The Odessa taxpayer has not been ripped off for (another) UAH 42 million, a villain has been found guilty of forgery, and justice has been done?

Clearly not.

What has happened to those within the  Committee of Competitive Bidding and Procurement that made this clearly dubious (to be charitable) contract award?

Were they merely grossly negligent in their assessments prior to contract award?  A simple sacking for such gross negligence due?

Were they complicit in this attempted defrauding of the taxpayers of Odessa?  Was it a conspiracy to defraud involving some or all the committee members and the directors of the contract winning company?  If so why were they not in the dock at the Primorsky District Court with a now convicted director of the contract winning company?  Was justice deliberately blind only in one eye?

If the evidence suggests gross negligence but no criminal intent by those within the Committee of Competitive Bidding and Procurement, then were they rightly sacked?  If the evidence is insufficient to prove, despite pointing toward, criminal conspiracy by those within the Committee of Competitive Bidding and Procurement, then were they rightly sacked?

Would anybody be surprised if those responsible for this tender award remain within the Committee of Competitive Bidding and Procurement?

Will there be a public inquiry into this by the Odessa Regional State Administration?  It would present an opportunity to project transparent local governance.

In every contract, legitimate or nefarious, written or orally agreed, it takes two (or more) to tango.

Is this a case of half-justice (albeit better than the usual absence of justice) for the taxpayer of Odessa?

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