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An attempt to make de facto the de jure? Draft Law 7315 (corruption issues again)

February 7, 2018

The statutory introduction of e-declarations for politicians and other high ranking officials were rightly touted as a significant step toward transparency and anti-corruption measures when introduced in Ukraine.

Among several statutorily mandated tasks, the inspection, investigation and highlighting of e-declarations that require raising administrative violations and/or forwarding for NABU attention relating to suspected criminality, falls to the supposedly independent body – NACP (National Agency for Corruption Prevention).

As is so often the case however, whatever the statute book may proscribe, it has failed to be effectively implemented.  Of tens of thousands of e-declarations submitted, the NACP has verified a mere 143 e-declarations.  Only 7 of those being forwarded to law enforcement agencies for further action.

Further, whatever the structural and procedural inefficiencies, and miserable management endured within the NACP, the integrity of the Agency was publicly challenged when an employee, Hanna Solomatina head of the financial control department within the NACP turned whistleblower.  She alleged Chairwoman Natalia Korchak was running the NACP via the invisible hand of The Bankova (Presidential Administration).  Allegations were publicly made that “I personally received instructions from the NACP chairwoman to check certain lawmakers so that they seem ‘honest and truthful’ while no violations should have been found in their income statements.

The full-scale screening of eight MPs, which was supposed to end last May, has not even begun yet. Only 91 income statements have been scrutinized so far.”

She made further allegations that staff were banned from checking tax returns relating to the e-declarations of Supreme Court Judges, and that not only was the Chairwoman under the political control of The Bankova, nor just that she was also amending certain e-declarations for personal gain, but that the NACP was being used as a political tool to target (or save) certain political interests.

Grim – but not surprising if true.

However, NABU investigators have not been idle awaiting NACP referrals – nor in looking at the Chairwoman of the NACP.  Needless to say, this has caused public acrimony between NABU and the NACP, notwithstanding attempts by the NACP to prevent unrestricted NABU access to e-declarations.  There are currently slightly less than 80 NABU investigations on-going relating to e-declarations with more undoubtedly to follow despite the almost complete absence of NAPC referrals.

Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s statement “We wanted the best, but it turned out like always” perhaps comes to mind.

Draft Law 7315 would appear, prima facie, to be an attempt to prevent NABU investigations relating to e-declarations prior to a NACP referral – clearly an untenable statutory limitation if the desired outcome is a robust, efficient and transparent e-declaration system as envisaged in the e-declaration enactment.

Ho humm!

Undoubtedly it will not only be the UK irked by Draft Law 7315, for it would effectively end e-declaration investigations by NABU.  In short, should this Draft Law become statute the bill will block the beginning of any new investigations of illegal enrichment and fraudulent declarations of inaccurate information by significantly limiting the methods of detecting such crimes – among other clearly questionable outcomes.

While de facto NACP obstructionism and internal nefariousness appears prima facie to have become institutionalised and a complete perversion of what it was designed to be, the Draft Law would effectively make that de facto institutional culture de jure – for the benefit only of those in need of public scrutiny.

Very much a retrograde step if this Draft Law is passed.

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