A $250 000 bribe and 40 court hearings – Nashi Groshi
A big “bribery” case against a high-profile official from the State Service of Exports Control of Ukraine has already been in court for a year and a half. Nashy Groshy collected some details of court hearings.
A case against Serhiy Golovatiy in February 2016 became one of the two that were mentioned by the President Petro Poroshenko in his letters to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, Prosecutor General’s Office and the Cabinet of Ministers calling to actively engage against corruption.
Since April 2016 – the case has been in Podil District Court of Kyiv city. Since then there have been around 40 hearings. On the one hand, compared to other cases – this one shows good dynamics. On the other hand – taking into account how creative the defense is in dragging the process, it will take long to come to an end.
In Spring of this year the court finished researching the evidence provided by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. In particular, the court was provided with videos showing how former Head of the Unit of State Expertise of Dual-Use Goods of the Department for State Expertise of the State Service of Exports Control of Ukraine Serhiy Golovatiy clearly indicates the amount of bribe which “Motordetal-Konotop” LLC had to give in 2015 in order to receive permission to export its goods abroad and then disagrees with the change in order (“algorithm”) of transferring this money which the representative of the firm asked for.
Particularly, as one of the videos shows, during one of the meetings in December 2015 Golovatiy demanded a 50% “advance payment” from the whole amount, and the representative of “Motordetal-Konotop” LLC tried to convince him that this was too much. However, the ex-official did not yield. “I believe this is the only possible and right option. I think that they (owners of LLC – edit.) need to agree. We will try to make it as soon as possible. You don’t need to break the apple in parts. No need. Figuratively speaking”, – said Golovatiy during the meeting with the representative of “Motordetal-Konotop” LLC.
In total, the court has around six hours of video footage showing meetings of ex-official with the representative of “Motordetal-Konotop”. According to videos, during the last transfer of money on 9 May 2015, after which Golovatiy was arrested, he asked the representative of “Motordetal-Konotop” to leave the cafe in order to receive the money outside. This surprised the latter: «Are you afraid or something? Two other times you weren’t and now you are afraid? .
During court hearing, this whole video, recorded as part of operative measures, Golovatiy said was fabricated, such “that was changed”. He also refers to himself on this video as “a person looking like me”, “driver” or the “talker”. Listening to how once again Golovatiy “turns attention of the court” and describes what at the specific moment that “person” from the video could think or do, the judge broke down and asked: “So is this you or not? You are telling so as if you have lived it through yourself”. After a minor discussion Golovatiy admitted that it was him on the videos. Along with this, he stated that he did not recognize them and demanded an expert examination. According to
statements of both the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and defense of Golovatiy such an examination was conducted. It showed that videos were not changed and that there were no signs of montage detected.
Out of 250 thousand USD that were demanded, Golovatiy during three meetings in December 2015 received 125 thousand USD and was arrested afterwards. Along with this, one video shows how he was trying to stick a money pack with 20 thousand USD in his pocket and couldn’t do it.
Golovatiy hasn’t spent any dollar of the unlawful reward that he has received. Almost all amount in 50 thousand USD, that he received during first two meetings, law enforcement officers found in his house. And 75 thousand USD were seized in his car during the arrest.
Besides that, the court examined 11 prosecution witnesses. In particular, representatives of “Motordetal-Konotop” testified in court hearings proving all circumstances of bribe extortion.
Golovatiy considers himself innocent and rejects all accusations against him. He builds his defense on the fact that he became a victim of the Security Service of Ukraine that provoked him having planted the money on him.
Sometimes Golovatiy gives reasons for why he was «framed»: in order to get to his boss – head of the State Exports Control Yuriy Tereshenko, as well as – allegedly due to his participation in a competition for the position of a director of the plant “Aviakon” of the Ministry of Defense: “This is not the main, but one of the reasons for a provocation against me”.
It’s worth mentioning that on the day of Golovatiy’s arrest investigators searched Tereshenko’s house. During the search they detected 1900 USD that had been given to Golovatiy as a bribe. Tereshenko claimed that the money was given to him as settlement of debt. The ex-Head of the State Service of Exports Control was not informed of suspicion in this case. However, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine investigates information on his unlawful enrichment.
Let us mention, that as videos demonstrated to the court show, Golovatiy mentioned that his actions were coordinated with someone higher in the hierarchy. For example, in the course of the meeting, during which the ex-official discussed the «algorithm» of money transfer with the representative of the firm, he said: “I’ll tell you. I was given a task. Meaning, there was such a moment in the process of discussions. I told that this is unrealistic. I was right, that’s it”. However, judging only from this citation it is impossible to prove the complicity in extortion of an unlawful reward of the former Head of the State Service of Exports Control, in whose house 1900 of marked dollars were found. Let us remind you that Golovatiy and Tereshenko were classmates in the university with the former being considered as a person from Tereshenko’s close surroundings.
But let us return to Golovatiy and how he defends himself in court.
In fact, during each of the hearings he gives testimony which drags the proceedings. Let us remind you, that examination of an accused person is a separate stage of court proceedings and it has not yet been conducted in this case.
Prosecutor of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office Alina Zhovnitska has many times objected to this: “So Golovatiy testifies or what ?…We are watching the meeting of 7 December. And he tells us how to receive a permission and so on. How is it related to the demonstrated video?”
Judges also constantly call Golovatiy to speak only to the point: “Don’t repeat yourself, please. You have already told us that”, “The structure is the following: we are investigating a certain evidence, you tell us what this evidence means. You give your testimony with almost every evidence”, “You are doing this again, to the point, you are going through the whole case. Thus you are dragging the proceedings”.
Unagreed positions of Golovatiy and his attorney also drag the case. Thus, in the end of May court started to investigate evidence provided by the defense. In order to start this stage, a defendant and his attorney had to provide the court with a list of their evidence and witnesses. However, this turned out to be not an easy task for them. After the attorney Andriy Kovez announced the list, Golovatiy raised and made a statement that he saw and heard the motion of his attorney for the first time, that their position was “unagreed” and that they “had not yet approved the lists”.
The court has adjourned the hearings twice, giving the defendant a time to get acquainted with the motion of his attorney and agree on the positions. “This is already the third hearing where we give you the opportunity to provide the list of your evidence. The last hearing ended the same way since your position was unclear. Can you somehow agree on that before the hearing. We make long pauses in order for you to be able to agree on it…and that is your evidence that we are examining”, – said the judge.
Let us mention, that during the meeting on 31 August, during which the court was considering the documents provided by the defense, Golovatiy again made a statement: “My attorney has for some reason not included many other documents”.
Not less time is being spent on the fact that Golovatiy and his attorney are poorly aware of case materials. Thus, during the consideration of documents that were provided by them, a lot of time was spent on finding them among other materials of the case. Sometimes even due to the fact that the defense simply indicated the wrong numbers of pages. Questions and comments of judges like: “You haven’t in the end corrected mistakes. Where is this protocol in Volume 4? I told you to get acquainted with the case materials”, “Which reference did you mean? Give me the page number”, “For the next hearing – we need specific page numbers”, “You should get ready for court hearings” have many times been said during the hearings.
Besides that, Golovatiy and his attorney have several times made a statement that there is no video of the meeting of October 2015 where Golovatiy first met with the representative of “Motordetal-Konotop” LLC. According to the accused ex-official, he «cannot make up his final position without this video». Both the court and the prosecutor say that all existing videos in this case are in the materials of proceedings. Along with this, the judge reiterates each time that Golovatiy and his attorney should find the mentioned video and provide it to the court that will of course take it into consideration: “Where is this video?…You should study the case and give us the evidence that you need. Each evidence that the court has will be considered.”
In general, the defense of Golovatiy claimed 37 documents as evidence, 16 of which have already been considered, since they were the evidence of prosecution. Let us mention, that there were protocols of examination of marked money bills among the claimed evidence of the defense. The stage during which they will be considered can be prolonged due to the fact that Golovatiy demands for the consideration of these protocols to be conducted only when the money bills, that are kept in the bank and need a secured delivery, are physically in the court room. Though the case does include the photos of each money bill. Let us also mention, that these protocols have already been considered by the court as evidence of prosecution.
The defense claimed that they want to interrogate 22 witnesses. However, as Golovatiy constantly says, “this is not yet a full list”. Among them – a son and a daughter of Golovatiy, officers of the Security Service of Ukraine who took part in the operation, all attesting witnesses as well as the already mentioned former Head of the State Service of Exports Control Yuriy Tereshenko who escaped after Golovatiy’s arrest and is hiding abroad. It is interesting, that the court turned the attention of the ex-official to this fact, and the way he plans to ensure that Tereshenko comes to court.
Among the witnesses that were summoned to court, in particular, there were attesting witnesses of searches, which did not bring any results. For example, attesting witnesses of the search in the rooms of the State Service of Exports Control. That is why it will also be interesting to hear in court what purpose the defense pursues when summoning them to court.
As of today, out of 22 claimed witnesses of defense interrogated were only four – a son of Golovatiy and three officers of the Security Service of Ukraine. By the way, we can describe one of the episodes of how that was done. On the day when the son of former Deputy Head of the State Service of Exports Control was interrogated, two officers of the Security Service of Ukraine were also summoned to court. However, instead of also examining them, after having examined the Golovatiy-junior, the defense requested for the whole group of prosecutors in the proceeding to be recused. The court considered the request and overruled it due to groundlessness, however there was no time left for examination of two Security Service officers who were waiting this whole time in court.
After examination of evidence provided by the defense the court will have to examine Golovatiy himself, listen to his closing statement, run court debates and after that leave the courtroom to decide on a sentence. Let us remind you, that according to served charges Golovatiy may receive from 8 to 12 years of imprisonment with confiscation of property.
Court hearings take place almost every week. The next hearing in this case will be on 13 September.
Iryna Sharpinska, Nashi Groshi