Trickle down culpability – An Odessa case to watchOctober 18, 2016
A reader may ponder quite rightly just how many letters Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko receives directly requesting him to do his part in upholding the law.
However many he receives, he can now add one more to the list – a letter from Invest Group in Odessa, part of which reads “In view of the above employees of the company Invest Group refer to you as the head of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which seeks to protect human rights, the interests of society and the state, with a request to protect our employees against threats and attacks on the part of Mr. Dubov AF.”
In short a public and direct appeal to Yuri Lutsenko not to continue to turn a blind eye to raider attacks by Mr Dubov (and associates) – please do your job!
The problems for Yuri Lutsenko continue to mount, for his undoubted return to politics (and at a minimum with a Cabinet position) rest heavily upon actually being perceived as a Prosecutor General that actively went after the elite and put more than a few in jail. That necessity will eventually bring him into conflict with President Poroshenko who thus far has presided by way of managing elite interests, striking grubby deals, and insuring that none of the elite actually go to jail – at worst to be found guilty in absentia.
Whilst “trickle down economics” may be a commonly known phrase to many, “trickle down culpability” is how anti-corruption is currently to be perceived in Ukraine. Those at the bottom of the “trickle down culpability” pyramid however, are hardly set to benefit in either theory or practice.
This particular Invest Group case however, is somewhat interesting for it involves a man with no legitimate immunity, who is unambiguously connected to the very top of the Ukrainian elite yet politically toxic, and is nothing short of a professional “raider” of businesses.
Thus there are local complainants, a local structure that simply fails to control his well known nefarious deeds, a local infrastructure that acts on his behalf/defends his actions, and an elite connection that is undeniable yet intangible – whilst he is without any of the immunity complications associated with actually arresting him.
Before going any further, a few lines about Mr Alexander Dubov are perhaps in order – for most readers will have never heard of him (even if they live in Ukraine).
Mr Dubov hails from Odessa Oblast. He finished medical school and also holds qualifications in law from Odessa National Academy. Upon completion his mysteriously managed to land some highly placed positions in the southwest of the Oblast immediately. For example he promptly became Deputy Director of Dombudkonstruktsiya near Ismail. Time spent on the borders of Transnistria was not wasted and it is claimed/known that he became a major player in cigarette smuggling during the mid to late 1990’s. He also became the Deputy Director (of General Affairs) for the Christian Charitable Foundation Trust until 2002/3.
“Foundations”, “trusts” and “charities” were/are a prerequisite for those with sullied reputations but who have political ambition – and political ambition Mr Dubov had (and still has).
He became a Deputy Director of an entity called the Ukrainian Investment Group which sometime around 2005/6 came into contact with an entity called International Investment Group. International Investment Group was then led by Alexander Yanukovych, the eldest (and wanted) son of former-President Yanukovych.
A reader will therefore be able to predict the increased profitability and infamy of Mr Dubov within certain circles once a relationship with Alexander Yanukovych developed.
Indeed in 2007, when then President Yushenko was juggling Prime Ministers and minions of both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko sallied forth across the land offering MP mandates for $5 million for those interested and deemed appropriate/came with recommendation (with an expected return of quadrupling that investment during a parliamentary mandate – or such was the return offered to this blog when asked in 2007 if for $5 million a seat in the Verkhovna Rada would be of interest), Mr Dubov entered the Verkhovna Rada under the Batkivshchyna (Tymoshenko) Party label.
Whether or not he got a discount on the $5 million joining/mandate fee who knows – but assuredly it will have cost several $ millions for that mandate if offered the same deal that this blog was offered at that time.
Naturally, having now reached the Verkhovna Rada Mr Dubov also set up his own charity, “Foundation for Goodness and Love”. It was the done thing and nothing unusual. Such entities are particularly useful when it comes to voter bribery/coercion.
Once in the Verkhovna Rada Mr Dubov set about work in the font of all fonts of corruption and nefariousness – energy and nuclear power. He became closely associated with Alexander Turchynov, the current Secretary of the National Security & Defence Council of Ukraine. Mr Turchynov was at the time one of the staunchest of Tymoshenko loyalists. Mr Turchynov appears to have ably assisted Mr Dubov’s parliamentary career – and with it access to numerous machinations and nefarious schemes. Without listing them all, scams are alleged to have included the food budget for prisoners (presumably resulting in hungry prisoners), drug procurement, and (an on-going per the opening paragraphs) count of close to 100 corporate raids – mostly in Odessa, but not exclusively.
In 2012 his second term in the Verhovna Rada began (District 64, Odessa) in what must have been an extremely expensive voter bribery and/or coercion campaign. At the time of “peak Yanukovych”, a Batkivshchyna MP from Odessa with a reputation as thoroughly sullied as his won fairly? Clearly the previous Verhovna Rada “returns” during his first mandate, plus almost 100 corporate raids upon profitable companies provided for such expensive electoral funding.
What is perhaps somewhat unique about the corporate raiding conducted by Mr Dubov is that no entity seems to have survived once his eye (or the eyes of others for which he would ply his expertise) has been taken with them. There is also a level of consistent brutality and brazenness about these corporate raids that set them apart from others.
Naturally not all spoils were (or are) retained by Mr Dubov. He had (and has) patrons within the Verkhovna Rada to which tribute is necessarily paid. Indeed rumour has it that he earned sufficient trust that during the immediate aftermath of the Yanukovych regime flight and the subsequent high positions of his patrons, that he became one of the “purses” for certain temporary highly placed political figures to re-route State funds through.
The “Revolution of Dignity” was not altogether rewarding for Mr Dubov however – even if you do get to stand next to Ms Tymoshenko upon her release before a less than enthusiastic crowd.
The subsequent Verkhovna Rada elections of October 2015 saw him lose his single mandate parliamentary seat and he was deemed simply to odious a figure to feature highly on any Batkivshchyna Party list in the post-revolutionary atmosphere. Those with a public persona for thuggery, corporate raiding and extortion were swiftly distanced whilst new unsullied civil society and journalism people were actively sought – notwithstanding persistent and ugly inferences to his involvement in the preparations (and aftermath) resulting in the 2nd May tragedy in Odessa.
Mr Dubov is not man without political creativity, even if he is a brutal one. Because political doors were/are closed due to the political climate (they may reopen), he toyed with the idea of heading the Chamber of Commerce instead. After all, a degree of power is there to be had, and so are the invitations for drinkies and a canapes with ambassadors, economic and trade attaches, as well as foreign business leaders. Unfortunately the Ukrainian leadership managed to grasp the prickly politics of placing a professional and notorious corporate raider as head of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (although a reader will doubt they would otherwise have understood the irony).
Nevertheless, the core business of (professional) corporate raiding continues as Invest Group’s very recent letter to the Prosecutor General makes abundantly clear. This despite Mr Dubov having been nudged into the shadows of political expediency and therefore can no longer hide behind parliamentary immunity.
With immunity gone, why then does he continue to act so brazenly and implied impunity?
As any occultist will say “As above, so below”. If Ms Tymoshenko, Alexander Yanukovych and Mr Turchynov (among others) have all been (and perhaps still are) the “above” – then who and what constitutes the “below”? Corporate raiding is a “dark art” in Ukraine after all.
If persistent and informed whispers are in any way accurate, then the exact construction of that local protection is divided between the political and the legal. It would perhaps, if whispers be true, compromise politically of Messrs Krotyk, Kmyrenko, Shyvalov, Shamilov, Deide, Lutsenko (I), and Ms Syslova and Kuzel, whilst influencing the legal would be Mr Babenko, Mr Mazark with the SBU, the police and prosecutors by Mr Podolev, and Mrs Podoleva the courts.
It must therefore be clear to a reader why Invest Group have decided to circumvent the local system and appeal directly and publicly to the Prosecutor General when faced with yet another corporate raid by Mr Dubov (via a shell company called Naster registered in Lithuania if Mr Lutsenko needs a place to start and work back from).
A reader may question whether the Invest Group corporate raid is an act of Mr Dubov alone, or whether it done on behalf of others? If so which others? Alexander Yanukovych? NSDC Secretary Turchynov? Ms Tymoshenko? Others from his Batkivshchyna history? Perhaps the acts occur on behalf of yet others? He is certainly skilled at what he does. His reputation is earned.
The sensitive issue of how well acquainted Mr Dubov is with the Attorney General who was also a Batkivshchyna loyalist renowned for grubby deals behind the curtain during Mr Dubov’s two terms as a Deputy from the same party also arises.
How does Attorney General Lutsenko now act upon receipt of this letter? It is not a case that will get any diplomatic attention (unless the diplomats that read this blog now take it under observation). It is a case that can be easily ignored should he chose to do so – or at least act so slowly as to be too late to prevent the successful conclusion of the Invest Group corporate raid.
If he has any conflicting interests, who does he pass this off to?
If he (or President Poroshenko) want a big scalp in Odessa, and one which is also well known within the national elite circles, does the currently politically toxic and immunity-less Mr Dubov provide for something approaching a significant anti-corruption/business friendly conviction whereby the current “trickle down culpability policy” does not necessarily have to trickle down very far?
Although this case will probably get little by way of attention, it is perhaps one that should be watched as something of a bellwether simply because it presents overt political opportunities unhindered by issues of immunity that can provide publicity regarding successful anti-corruption, criminal action and bettering the business environment- or not.
Attorney General Lutsenko’s response is awaited.