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Paving the way for the return of Mayor Trukhanov? (Or not)

February 6, 2018

On 23rd January an entry appeared relating to the still absent from post Mayor of Odessa, Gennady Trukhanov, and the nefarious reasons and related NABU investigations as to why Mayor Trukhanov is staying out of the country.

Chief among those scams and schemes (though by no means all the scams and schemes) are perhaps the most blatant (if not the largest) of frauds, relating to a new City Hall  There are then some very dodgy road tenders involving companies “close to the Mayor” and perhaps most importantly a scandal relating to Odessa City Airport, related documents of which do bear the signature of Mayor Trukhanov.

Hence Mayor Trukhanov went on leave on 26th December to Greece, and as of the time of writing is still absent his post on 6th February.  To return home without Bankova assurances that he will not be jailed, the Mayor will not do.  The question therefore is how far have negotiations between Bankova and Mayor Trukhanov got?

He is after all still absent from work as mayor of one of Ukraine’s biggest (and important) cities.  It is now 6 weeks and counting.

In stating this, does that not imply that a supposedly independent NABU can be politically controlled, and that as such investigations are being directed by an invisible Bankova hand?  NABU, after the Army, are perhaps the most trusted State institution and benefit from robust and often public support from “external supporters of Ukraine”.

In making such inference to behind the curtain political deals, does such framing and perception do nothing but undermine NABU in the public consciousness when there are NABU investigations on-going?

Well perhaps.

However, both NABU and the SAP still face the prospect of corrupt and manipulated judges – hence the reason to complete the anti-corruption infrastructure with an anti-corruption court.  Ultimately the best investigations and prosecution cases can be for naught before a corrupt judge.

So what gives reason to anticipate the return of Mayor Trukhanov and any apparent new agreement between The Bankova and the Mayor?

Firstly, despite an undoubted involvement in the road scams and blatant fraud surrounding the new City Hall shenanigans, the Mayor’s signature will almost certainly not appear anywhere and thus proving his involvement sufficiently to force a corrupt judge to find fault in the evidence chain, rather than the evidence itself, is going to be far more difficult than proving his personal involvement in the events surrounding Odessa City Airport, the documents of which do carry Mayor Trukhanov’s signature.

Therefore, two from three nefarious scams can probably be found lacking in evidence by a judge looking for a lack of evidence with regard to the Mayor.  The airport scam remains the problem.

Indeed, regarding the blatant fraud surrounding the new City Hall, Judge Lyudmila Kizyun of the Solomensky Court of Kyiv withdrew the arrest of half of the funds received (UAH 185 million) paid from the budget of Odessa to the company “Development Elite” for the (re)purchase of the former factory “Krayan” in criminal case No. 52016000000000411 .

In short of the UAH 185 million arrested during the NABU investigation and on-going SAP prosecution, the learned Judge released UAH 92,340,718 – the precise amount of “rebate” offered to City Hall once NABU began to investigate such a blatant and large fraud.

The decision also leaves UAH 90 million (a very healthy profit on a nefarious deal) still arrested, but which may well ultimately end up with those behind this scam.

Indeed the representative of Development Elite stated in court on 9th January 2018, that a new contract was concluded between the firm and the city council, on the basis of which the cost of the building fell from UAH 185 million to UAH 90 million.

However, the Mayor has not yet dug himself out of this particular scam.

Any new contract agreeing a massively reduced sale price (and yet still ridiculously high profit) is required to be approved by the City Council – and it hasn’t been.

If a new agreement has been signed (and if it has, presumably it was signed by “acting Mayor” Anatoly Orlovsky) that deal has been signed certainly in breach of protocol, and therefore probably illegally.  By extension, the judicial decision to unfreeze some funds has been made on the basis of a (perhaps fictional) contract that has serious legal issues.

Furthermore whilst the profits of this nefarious scam may well have been halved in an effort to mitigate or end the NABU investigation, huge profits remain – and undoubtedly Mayor Turkhanov was (and eventually will be when the dust settles) a beneficiary.

The crime was committed and returning half the proceeds of crime does not negate or mitigate that fact.  Prosecutions and sentencing should still continue even if all the money is recovered.  Formal convictions (where evidence is strong enough) are required.  It is not enough to say “Ah you got me, here’s half the money back, let’s say no more about it eh?” and accept that outcome.

It should be noted that the SAP appealed the judicial decision to unfreeze a proportion of the seized funds – but Judge Kizyun dismissed the appeal.  Whether that decision was made of her own volition, after receiving some “advice”, or some reward, a reader will ponder.

With regard to other scams and schemes, it will not be enough for the anti-monopoly committee to fine the road companies “close to the mayor” for any cartel contract bids and leave it at that either.  It was a criminal conspiracy where the crime was commissioned.  Prosecutions are required.

Yet it is the airport that remains the biggest problem for the Mayor – for his signature is on documentation for the most “bizarre” (read nefarious) agreements.  That being so, just how far do the rulings by Judge Lyudmila Kizyun of the Solomensky Court of Kyiv, pave the way for the return of Mayor Trukhanov?

Or is this about the return of Mayor Trukhanov?

Is this perhaps less about Mayor Trukhanov, and more about the attempted extraction of other parties (among which count Yulia Tymoshenko ally Alexander Dubov) from criminal liability – or at least the mitigation of such criminal responsibility thereof?

Whatever the answer, it seems that time will perhaps tell rather soon.

However, should “solutions” be found to all Mayor Trukhanov’s problems, and he remain both at liberty and Mayor upon any return, given the “here’s a refund and let’s make it go away” offer to Odessa City Hall, whatever perceptions there are of NABU independence will be struck a blow – for they will appear to some to become a politically subservient and/or far too easily manipulated institution.

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