When can Trukhanov return from his “holiday”? A blatant fraud updated

January 23, 2018

In October 2016 an entry appeared entitled “An impressive fraud even by the standards of Odessa City Hall“.

In the decade this blog has been running it was indeed the most blatant and obvious of frauds, involving the very top of City Hall and a company well within the orbit of one of the regions most brutal and infamous “raiders” closely associated to Yulia Tymoshenko.

The sordid details naming names are to be found in the above link, but for brevity City Hall sold a building to this individual for UAH 11.5 million and 7 months later bought it back for UAH 185 million – approximately 16 times the sale cost and with little change to the functionality of the building.

Eventually in 2017, NABU began to investigate this obvious and clearly organsied criminal incident among others – such as the dodgy circumstances surrounding Odessa Airport and road tenders relating to companies “associated” with the mayor.

Although NABU investigations have not tempered the corruption and criminality within City Hall, it has at least forced a little more discretion with regard to such criminality and the effects in the public domain.  The on-going scams and schemes a little less obvious and public – but on-going they are.

Nevertheless, every time Mayor Trukhanov goes on a holiday, perceptions for some are that the holiday is in fact his (temporarily or permanently) fleeing Odessa – and the current circumstances surrounding his on-going vacation seem to lend some credibility to such rumours this time.

Mayor Trukhanov is currently on “holiday” in Greece and has been since 26th December 2017.  (Mayor Trukhanov likes Greece – perhaps because it is very strongly rumoured he holds Greek citizenship.)  However that “holiday” has been extended, City Hall announcing that he remains in Greece until 26th January.

In short Mayor Trukhanov appears to have decided to take an entire month off – and to spend it in Greece.

A reader will be wondering how many other mayors of major Ukrainian cities have taken an entire month off – suspecting the answer is in fact none.

There is of course a reason for this extended holiday – beyond Mayor Trukhanov’s love of Greece (and strongly rumoured citizenship).

The aforementioned NABU investigation has plodded onward relating to so blatant a scam as to be an affront to any criminal conspiracy.

During Mayor Trukhanov’s “winter holiday” in Greece there have been developments that a reader may not have expected.

The nefarious buyer – turned seller of the building in question has now offered to return UAH 95 million to City Hall of the UAH 185 million it paid.

How generous!

Instead of a criminal conspiracy involving the highest positions of City Hall making 16 times profit, due to NABU interest the offer to reduce that criminal profit to 8 times has been made.

The deal being offered is as obvious as the initial blatant fraud.

The buyer/seller entity involved in this criminal act still makes a very healthy profit (no doubt to be shared somehow with those atop City Hall) and avoids jail.

Mayor Trukhanov can return from his “extended holiday” without any requirement to resign and after a little renegotiation of the existing Odessa City Hall-Bankova political understandings, will not face arrest or conviction.  The Bankova has the leverage to renegotiate a deal far more to its liking with Mayor Turkhanov than that initially agreed in 2014/15.

Both the city and The Bankova avoid early elections for Mayor of Odessa – for The Bankova have clearly not identified a malleable alternative to Mayor Trukhanov.

NABU is seen to have effectively returned UAH 95 million in criminally obtained money back to the City budget – albeit without having the scalp of Mayor Trukhanov or a senior City Hall official to go with it.  Any scapegoat, if required, to be found among lesser beings.

Therein is the grubby deal on offer – though it may not be accepted by The Bankova.  The consequences for Mayor Trukhanov (and those behind him) would therefore be grim.

So why has Mayor Trukhanov extended his “holiday” in Greece if a “solution” has now been found to mitigate the fallout of such a blatant scam facilitating his safe return?

Unfortunately for Mayor Trukhanov, the City Hall extraordinary session to vote to accept the buyer’s offer to return UAH 95 million (and thus set the circumstances for the Mayor’s trouble-free return) that was due to be held on 9th January failed to occur.  (It was holiday season for all other City Hall Deputies too, and not enough were available to attend and reach the required number of Deputies present.)

There are also problems in forming a quorum within the City Hall budget committee (four failed attempts this month thus far), who would have to vote to propose to accept this offer to City Hall Deputies.  A matter of protocols being seen to be followed – particularly with NABU involvement.

The next scheduled City Hall session that can create a set of circumstances for a trouble-free return is due on 31st January.  Perhaps there will be an extraordinary session prior to that date considering the extension of Mayor Trukhanov’s stay in Greece is only officially until 26th January (baring a further extension) – yet rumour abounds that this session may be postponed.  If the City Hall session be yet further delayed it will surely be interpreted that “no deal” has been yet been negotiated with The Bankova.

A reader must therefore ponder whether Mayor Trukhanov’s stay in Greece will be yet further extended, and for how long?

Beyond that, after 1 month’s continuous “holiday”, at what point is Mayor Trukhanov deemed to be failing in his duties?  If thus officially deemed to be failing, then his position then is temporarily filled by Alexey Potapsky who is the City Hall Speaker, until the fate of the Mayor becomes clear and/or new elections are held.  Mr Potapsky is a “Goncharenko man” and thus by extension a “Poroshenko man”.

National elections are coming – control over regional administrative resources to unfairly assist election campaigns will no doubt feature in the thinking of some campaign managers (as it always does).  Leverage is with The Bankova in the (probable) on-going renegotiation with Mayor Trukhanov.

Nevertheless, all possible grubby deals aside to “settle” this matter, there was a criminal conspiracy that turned into a criminal act.  The theft of a bar of chocolate is the same as the theft of $1 million – an act of theft.  No more and no less.  The mens rea and its realisation occurred.

The crime was still committed even if more than 50% of the proceeds are being offered to “strike a deal” so that the big players involved avoid jail.

It may well be that agreement can be made that jail will be avoided – but that should not negate convictions and criminal records for those involved.  To be blunt, all of those involved in this criminal scam are long known to be nefarious in character – let them be given an appropriate criminal record to reflect that even if jail is “off the table” as part of a grubby deal.

Whatever the case, a little local Odessa colour to keep an eye upon over the coming week (or perhaps longer).


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