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UK goes after Nasirov? (It might and it should)

June 16, 2017

When Roman Nasirov, then Head of the State Fiscal Service was arrested in March 2017 by NABU on suspicion of nefarious acts, it has to be said it came as a surprise to almost all.

President Poroshenko claimed no prior knowledge – which may well be true, for if he had it is quite possible Mr Nasirov would still be in his job.

As part of the investigation NABU claimed Mr Nasirov holds both Hungarian and UK citizenship as well as Ukrainian – something that would statutorily bar him from holding any political or civil service position.

Mr Nasirov flatly denied any dual citizenship.

NABU requested the UK confirm or deny that Mr Nasirov was a UK citizen.  Promptly, officially and publicly the UK confirmed that Mr Nasirov had indeed been granted UK Citizenship a few years ago.

An entry then appeared relating to UK citizen Roman Nasirov and possible offences under The UK Bribery Act 2010.

As stated months ago, unfortunately for Mr Nasirov – “The UK Bribery Act is one of those rare British laws that extends beyond the territory of the UK but travels with the citizen.  Thus any acts of bribery, giving or receiving, be the reward financial or in another form, in which Mr Nasirov is complicit in Ukraine (or elsewhere), is also criminal offence in the UK for which he can be dealt with there.

The entry also made clear that a reader should expect that hurdles and sabotage of the case should be expected at every opportunity – “Naturally Ukraine should be given first bite at the Nasirov cherry – yet few expect Ukraine to actually manage to get the case (at least with Mr Nasirov in attendance) to a verdict and sentencing.  His disappearance if released and a trial in absentia (if the case got that far) is more probable when considering that nobody of senior position goes to jail under President Poroshenko.”

It has thus proved to be, as expected, that at every opportunity to slow the case has indeed occurred.  Yet more hurdles await to be thrown into the due process system.

The entry also went on to ponder, in the full expectation of a Ukrainian justice failure, whether the UK should therefore act – “The question therefore is whether the UK should begin its own investigation of crimes committed under its own legislation in support of the Ukrainian people?

One wonders after numerous hours spent with UK diplomats over the years, notwithstanding a sprinkling of UK politicians and an occasional Lord, all ruminating upon what can be done to aid Ukraine in its fight against corruption, if this option will be pursued.  It’s not often they will get the chance to look at one of Ukraine’s most powerful office holders under due process of UK legislation.

The question is will they do it, or will the UK consider it a possible politically expedient exit for some very unwilling Ukrainian elites in this case?”

Good questions, perhaps only answerable as and when the case against Mr Nasirov is sabotaged rather than continuously hindered.

But what of the anticipated sabotage of the case?

It is unclear exactly what evidence the UK was asked to provide by NABU.  Was it simply that he was a UK citizen, or was there more to it?  That Mr Nasirov has assets in the UK is known.  How were they were paid for?  What is their value?  How did Mr Nasirov gain UK citizenship – for it is not cheap in the absence of “Grandfather rights”.

It appears that whatever evidence the UK was asked to provide and subsequently did is irrelevant.  Solomiansky Court, Kyiv has now ruled that the UK evidence is inadmissible and is thus disregarded.

This has clearly irked the UK and/or UK Embassy Kyiv – and rightly so, for to be sure any evidence provided by the UK will have strictly adhered to protocol and bilateral agreement.

Indeed it now appears that, officially, consideration is being given to whether criminal offences have been committed by a UK citizen that can be tried in a UK court – as pondered in the March entry.

“British Embassy statement on the criminal case against Roman Nasirov:

We are deeply concerned about the recent decision in Kyiv’s Solomiansky Court, where evidence provided by the UK in relation to the case against Roman Nasirov was ruled inadmissible and disregarded. The UK authorities will now review the facts and consider if criminal offences have been committed by a British citizen which may be tried in the UK.

This case underscores the urgent need for progress towards a reformed, independent and transparent judicial system and the swift introduction of specialised Anti-Corruption Courts with strictly vetted judges capable of properly trying high profile corruption cases.

The UK is a strong supporter of reform in Ukraine, which is why we are hosting the Ukraine Reform Conference in London on 6 July. Reform of the Ukrainian judicial system is a crucial part of the Ukrainian Government’s programme. The Ukraine Reform Conference will offer a further opportunity for the Government of Ukraine to demonstrate commitment to real progress in reforming the judicial system and further tackling corruption.”

So, should the UK go after its citizen Roman Nasirov for nefarious acts that fall foul of the UK Bribery Act 2010?  It could and it should!

It rightly gave the Ukrainian authorities the chance to have the first bite at the Nasirov cherry, but clearly there is little appetite – to the point of dismissing the evidence provided by the UK upon Ukrainian request.

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