AntAC Newsletter

Dear friends!

Your are interested in Ukraine and willing to follow the most recent anti-corruption developments in the country?

Then subscribe to our regular (weekly) updates.

We are covering:

1. The most burning successes and challenges of the anti-corruption reform in Ukraine

2. State of implementation by Ukraine of international obligations and commitments in the area of the anti-corruption

3. The most crucial and fresh cases of corruption investigations and revelations from journalists and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine

More news and publications in English are available at our webpage; the most recent and burning anti-corruption news in English we tweet here.

Yours, Anti-corruption Action Centre

  1. Subscribe to our weekly updates

Караємо зашкварених мажоритарників

Holding those responsible for syphoning money from procurements.

Watchdogging for public procurement of drugs.

Map Ukrainian Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)

Foreign partners condition Ukraine to fight corruption. We are monitoring how Ukraine implements these obligations.

Exploring corruption and learn to fight it.

Helping to return the money stolen by corrupt officials back to Ukraine.

Bribes 2016. Who Was Jailed and For What Reason? – Nashi Groshi

During last year only 5 bribe takers out of 362 had conclusive conviction and inprisonment. The highest position was the director of a colony.

Nashi Groshi continues to work to carry out its tedious work and count the number of total court judgments made thus far. For under the waves of PR coming out of all the state’s law enforcement organs, it is still desirable to have a strong foundation of facts beneath one’s feet.

In this article we do not offer any firm assessment, but rather share our observations. We can hope they will be useful not only to narrow circle of specialists. As such, here we go …

We analyzed every case story tied to bribery that made its way into a courtroom in 2016.

Before we go into all of this, we would like to note two important issues with the terminology we use below:

  1. The word “sentence” does not necessarily entail imprisonment, as a verdict can be acquittal. In general, it is better to just take the term “sentence” as the fact that a court verdict was reached;
  2. The phrase “no sentence came into force” means that the initial case has already received a verdict, though the case is currently under appeal. The exact outcomes of the cases, that is whether or not the accused is at large or imprisoned, is not possible to ascertain from the available documentation.

And now for the stats.

In 2016 there were 335 convictions for a total of 362 individuals under the article of law on the receipt of undue profits. As of February 16th, 217 sentences were duly imposed (for 222 individuals). The majority of those imprisoned received undue profits after the March 1st 2014.

Deprivation of Freedom

The verdicts ending in actual imprisonment been carried out against only 5 people, less than half of a percent of the total number of overall verdicts.

The longest sentence handed out, for 5 years and 1 month, was doled out against Oleksiy Meshteshuh, a serviceman from Ukraine’s 28th mechanized brigade of Armed Forced of Ukraine. From May to June 2015 he acted as an intermediary between his commander and carriers that were illegally transporting cargo into the occupied territories in the Donbas (for which they were paid 70,000 hryvnia per cargo load). There were at least 10 shipments made. For his part in this scheme, Meshteshuh received approximately 50,000 per load. Meshteshuh made a deal with prosecutors from the Chief Military Prosecutors Office which stipulated that he would cooperate in helping them to expose other related crimes of the illegal transportation of prohibited goods to the temporarily occupied territories.

Lyudmila Pashchenko, then head of the village of Novoshmidtivka (Mykolaiv Oblast), was sentenced to 5 years, removed from her post and banned from holding public office for 3 years, after being prosecuted for taking a $10,000 bribe in exchange for a lease on a publicly-owned well water system. When in court, she was repentant and admitted her guilt, explaining that she took a bribe as a consequence of the difficulty financial situation she found herself in.

A guilty verdict was also reached for Atrem Hurskiy, a tax inspector from Odesa, who was prosecuted on charges of delaying the closure of sole proprietorship businesses in exchange for nearly 4,000 hryvnia in bribes. A special pre-trial investigation and proceedings were held for Hurskiy as a consequence of his going into hiding in July 2013. Hurskiy is currently on an international wanted listed.

Ivan Volchanskiy, a former Head of the Mykolaiv Penitentiary (Lviv Oblast), received a 3-year sentence behind bars for demanding a $5,000 bribe to resolve an issue with the parole of an inmate. Volchanskiy confessed fully to his guilt in committing the crime. Since July 31st, 2015 he has been in jail and, in accordance with the so-called “Savchenko Law” which counts every one day that an individual is held in detention as the equivalent of two days of time served, he has technically already served out his sentence.

Another individual who has already served his sentence out, is Andriy Opanasets, a senior detective of criminal investigations at the Kharkiv police department, spent 2 years and 4 months behind bars for his part in unlawfully detaining an individual. The individual was released after a bribe was paid to Opanasets and one of his colleagues. Opanasets expressed regret for his actions and paid reparations in full to the victim of his crime. Opanasets, who has no prior convictions, has a small child and pregnant wife. The victim of the crime asked that the court not severely punish him for his misdeeds. With these facts under consideration, the court decided to give Opanasets a lighter sentence that entailed 2 years and 4 months in prison, a 3-year ban on serving in any law enforcement body, stripping him of his “police captain” title, though held off on any asset confiscation. Opanasets was in prison from October 6th 2010 through October 6th 2011, and as of April 18th 2016, under the aforementioned “Savchenko Law”, has served out all of his sentence.

Besides the sentences listed above, there are several convictions with longer sentences that have not yet come into effect:

  • Mykola Motruk, a judge of the Illinetskij raion court of the Vinnytsia oblast. Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, asset confiscation and a ban on serving in public office for extorting a 5,000 hryvnia bribe in 2012. Motruk maintained his innocence and refused to testify.
  • Ihor Nemyrovskiy, Deputy Head of the State Inspectorate for Agriculture of Ukraine. Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, asset confiscation and a ban on serving in public office and loss of official title for receiving 375,000 hryvnia to assist a company receive permits for the removal and transport of soil.
  • Volodomyr Burlachenko, Deputy Director Head of Investigative Section of Financial Investigations of the Kremenchug United State Tax Inspectorate under the Ministry of Finance in the Poltava Oblast. Sentenced to 9 years imprisonment, asset confiscation and a ban on serving in public office for taking a 500,000 hryvnia bribe to close a criminal case for tax evasion. He claimed he was innocent.
  • Andriy Sukhinin, prosecutor of the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk Oblast, and Roman Gapeev, Sukhinins deputy. Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment and a ban on serving in public office. The charges against them state that from November 2014 to April 2015 they systemically took bribes from local entrepreneurs in order for them to avoid an audit on their activities. Both maintained their innocence.
  • Andriy Shveda, Deputy Department Head and Head of the First Section of Criminal Investigations of the Financial Investigations Department of the State Tax Inspectorate in the city of Kramatorsk (Donetsk Oblast). Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, asset confiscation, loss of official title and a ban on serving in public office for accepting $20,000 in December 2014 to close a criminal tax evasion case. He refuted the charges against him.
  • Mykola Suprun, Head of the Bobrovitskiy district state administration of the Chernihiv Oblast. Sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, asset confiscation, a ban on serving in public office, loss of rank for assisting in the distribution of land for a gas filling station.

Additionally three individuals received 6 year sentences in jail, 24 individuals received 5 years and another 5 individuals received between 2 to 4 years of inprisonment, respectively. Amongst the convicted are 2 judges (Ivan Pidhorniy, a judge from the Kivertsivskiy district court of the Volyn Oblast, and Sakhibzhamal Barenko, a judge from the Zhytomyrskiy District Court of the Zhytomyr Oblast), directors of various sections of the State Migration Service in the Lviv Oblast, the city of Zhovti Vody (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast) and Pokrovska (Donetsk Oblast).

Besides this, of the verdicts with imprisonment terms given to, though have not come into effect, the deputy directors of the Department of State Labor in the Khmelnytskyi and Volyn oblasts; Yulia Kryva, the Head of the Shevchenskivskiy Village Council (Donetsk Oblast); Roman Rospopa, Village Head of Pidhirya (Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast); Dmytro Likhatskiy, the section director of the State Executive Service in the Svyatoshynskiy district of the city of Kyiv; Ruslan Voloshyn, section director of the State Land Agency in the Yamolynetskiy District of the Khmelnytskyi Oblast, as well as other individuals.

Summary Table of All of the Above Data:

1

Fines

More than have of those who received sentences were ordered to pay fines. Often, a prohibition on holding public office accompanied fines: of the 194 bribe takers that were compelled to pay fines, 182 of them lost the right to work in public office for a period of at least one year. Additionally, two of the convicted, in combination with a fine, lost their government service title and rank (Serhiy Biliy, senior state bailiff of the Talnivskiy District Department of Justice in the Cherkassy Oblast, and Vyacheslav Husaryuk, head specialist at the State Agricultural Inspectorate in the Rivne Oblast).

It is also worth noticing that the 109 individuals that were fined also signed off on an agreement with the prosecutor that professed their guilt. Among them was Ihor Gumenchuk, the First Deputy Director of the territorial organ of the State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate of Ukraine in the Lviv Oblast, who received 193,000 hryvnia and $2,500 to not apply penalities for breaking the city’s building codes. As a result of the agreement he reached with prosecutors, he received a lesser punishment, paying only a 60,000 hryvnia fine, despite the fact that the article of the law he was to be punished under called for 12 years of imprisonment. The remaining agreements that were made with prosecutors that required the convicted to pay a fine were concluded with bureaucrats that fall under “category C” and other intermediaries.

2

Exempt from Punishment (Conditional Imprisonment)

Everyone exempted from punishment, except for Vyacheslav Petrenko, the former director of the Unit of Investigating crimes that involve the usage of weapons for the Odesskiy Municipal Department of Internal Affairs, received conditional terms of imprisonment. Petrenko, who was accused of taking part in the systematic receipt of bribes in exchange for providing information to members of a gang, escaped imprisonment, the confiscation of his assets and a ban on holding a public post. He avoided punishment by claiming he had a number of illnesses.

Three individuals received 1-2 years of conditional imprisonment (Lyudmyla Zinkovska, director of the Brayilivskiy school; Halyna Ivanova, Acting Director for the Registration Service in Ostroh; Kamil Teymurov, a detective from Dnipro).

The rest were sentenced to 3-5 years of conditional imprisonment. Among them was Andriy Burlak, judge of the Prydniprovskiy District Court of the City of Cherkasy, 5 village heads – Pavlo Hludyk (Kalyuzhne, Suma Oblast), Tetyana Vechoryk (Rotmistrivka, Cherkasy Oblast), Svitlana Kompaniets (Melnyky, Cherkasy Oblast), Ihor Tsukanov (Vasylivka, Odesa Oblast), and Mykhaylo Babin (Vasylivka, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast).

Additionally, both Ihor Kondratyuk, ex-Mayor of Izyaslav in the Khmelnytskiy Oblast, and Valentyna Petrova, Acting Municipal Head of Artsyza in the Odesa Oblast, received suspended sentences. Suspended sentences were also given out to other individuals, including: Yuriy Sysmiy, director of the Main Department of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in the Odesa Oblast; Valeriy Shchepanskiy, Sector Director of the State Service for Combatting Economic Crime of the Minstry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Zhytomyr Oblast; Yaroslav Pikul, Acting Director of the Main Department of Justice in the Ternopil Oblast; and others as well.

3

Acquittals

In total, in 2016 40 people were acquitted on charges of receiving bribes. 6 of these acquittals have already came into effect. These cases involve three inspectors of the police, two environmental protection inspectors and the Head of the Neurological Department of the Ukrainian Research Institute of Industrial Medicine (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast).  

However, there a number of acquittals that have not come into force just yet, including those for the following individuals: Evheniy Smilyanskiy, Head of the Orzhytskiy District Court of the Poltava Oblast; Serhiy Pyrozhenka, a judge of the Sosnivskiy District Court in the city of Cherkasy; Emma Mykhaylova, Senior Prosecutor of the Suvorovskiy District Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Odesa; Oleh Popovych, Director of section of the Human Rights, Combatting Corruption and Crime in Transportation in the Zakarpatska Oblast; Vasyliy Bezushka, Village Head of Bushch (Rivne Oblast); Viktor Kulbak, Director of the Main Department of Veterinary Medicine in the Chernihiv Oblast; Ihor Prosh, Director of the Section of the State Executive Service of the Kompaniyivskiy District Department of Justice in the Kirovogradskiy Oblast; Evhen Ihnatenka, Deputy Director of the State Agricultural Inspectorate in the Kyiv Oblast; Ihor Tsekhanskiy, Director of the Rye Market (“Zhytniy rynok”); Larysa Zubko, Acting General Director of Agroinvest, Liliya Kulinenko, Dean of Izmayilskiy State Humanitarian University; and other individuals as well.

4

Cases Set for a New Trial

Appeals courts have annulled 33 sentences that were handed out in 2016 to individuals accused of receiving undue profits. Among them were 10 acquittals, 14 convictions (which officials were sentenced to 5-7 years in prison), 4 fines and 5 conditional imprisonments.

Among the acquittals that were reversed is Petro Lisniy’s, the former head of the Petrykivskiy Regional State Administration. In 2007, he gave an order to lease 52 acres of land to the company Legioner for a period of 49 years. According to the investigation, Lisniy and the director of the company granted the firm to the interested individual for a $400,000 bribe.

Two other cases are to head back to court following their acquittals being thrown out. Maskym Pereverzev, Mayor of Kiliya in the Odesa Oblast, accused of taking $2,000 for allowing the placement of a small kiosk on the beach, and Volodymyr Seredyuk, Village Head of Zalyshany in the Kyiv Oblast, accused of taking a 90,000 hryvnia bribe for the allocation of land.

Additionally, an appeals court has overturned the acquittals of Svitlana Poliyshchuk, a judge at the Kivertsivskiy District Court in the Volyn Oblast, and Volodymyr Moyseyetsy, a prosecutor in the same district, who were accused of receiving $5,500 in exchange for changing a charge (including an article on rape) and the imposition of punishment on the guilty party, though without prison time. The prosecutor was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment, was subject to asset confiscation, and a ban on working for the prosecutor’s office for 3 years. The judge’s case was acquitted as there was no proof of her taking part in the conspiracy to receive a bribe. A new trial is now on the way.

There is also a new case underway against the former director of a section of the Tax Police of the State Tax Inspectorate of the Balaklava District of the Kharkiv Oblast. The individual in question is accused of initially extorting bribes from a business owner, initially demanding one for a good that they returned, and then asking for 1,500 hryvnia a month to ensure the company’s continued ‘smooth operation’. The appealed acquittal has overturned his annulled sentence which called for 4 years of imprisonment, the confiscation of his assets and a ban on working in law enforcement agencies for a 3 year period. The case is being reviewed for a new trial.

5

More than half of the individuals convicted received fines, mostly falling within the range of 17-25,500 UAH, 13 were sentenced to be arrested and detained, 34 were given conditional sentences, and 44 others were sentenced to actual imprisonment. However, it must be noted that not all of the sentences that were handed out ever came into force. (For further details, see Table 1).

table1

1 As of Feb 16, 2017
2 Punishment in the form of restriction of freedom is that a person is kept in an open type correctional institution without isolation from the society which includes supervising and obligatory correctional labour. It can be defined from 1 to 5 years. A restriction of freedom is different from an imprisonment in that during restriction a convicted person can use computers, cell phones, leave a correctional institution for short period in certain cases, wear civilian clothes, have unlimited short term visitors etc. In 2016 Artem Myronenko, junior sergeant of Sumy Pre-trial Detention Center was convicted and sentenced to 3 years of restriction of freedom for buying and attempt to smuggle cannabis for a detainee.     1 As of Feb 16, 2017
3 Those who are convicted to arrest usually serve their sentence in a detention facility at their conviction jurisdiction venue, and military officers serve their sentence in a military detention. According to Criminal Executive Code those convicted to arrest fall under the same rights, obligations and restrictions as persons who serve imprisonment. Persons can be convicted to arrest from 1 to 6 months.
4 Ex-director on an Odessa city unit of internal affairs Vyacheslav Petrenko was released from serving main and additional punishment on medical grounds (according to art. 84 of CCU).
5 1 case is closed owing to death of the condemned (Vyacheslav Karabagak, ex Vice-Head of regional unit of the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection of Ukraine in Kirovograd oblast. 1 case concerning Olena Golovnya, associate professor of the State National Agriculture University, was closed by the appeal court because of the absence of crime in the act (now the case is in the cassation instance).
6 According to court decisions, 397 617 UAH, 46 752 USD, 11 000 EUR and 3 500 RUB were collected to budget from the convicted. Decisions came into force concerning 87 578 UAH, 4 450 USD, 1 500 EUR and 500 RUB. Foreign currency was exchanged at National Bank of Ukraine’s rate as of Feb 16, 2017. The sum does not include assets confiscated by the State: 12 cell phones, 1 notebook, 1 camera, 1 aquarium, 1 flat, 2 cars, 5 kg of raw amber. Decisions came into force concerning 5 cell phones and amber.   

There were 22-24 of the bribery sentences served to individuals by the courts of Kyiv City and the Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv Oblasts. In other oblasts there were between 10-18 sentences. In 6 oblasts altogether, less than 10 sentences were actually carried out and brought into force: Ternopil Oblast – 8 sentences; Mikolayiv, Chernivsty and Chernihiv Oblast: 7 sentences each; Zhytomyr Oblast: 6 sentences; Poltava Oblast: 5 sentences.

Who Has Been Punished?

In Category A, that is to say that category of state employees with whom a particularly high amount of official responsibility, three of the convicted were of prominence: Mykola Suprun, Petro Lysniy and Ihor Nemyrovskiy. Regarding the sentences that did carry the necessary legal force behind them: 2 of them are in appeal, 1 is undergoing a new trial.

In catergory B, or state officials with a middle level of official responsibility, 70 received sentences. Among them were 7 judges, 5 prosecutors, 15 heads of cities, towns and villages, 8 high-level law enforcement officials and 6 high-level tax officials. Of their sentences, 16 individuals have seen the verdict against them come into force.

The remaining 289 convicted individuals are considered to have low or low-to-mid levels of responsibility (category C), with 7 individuals additional individuals considered to be brokers or intermediaries. The sentences have come into force for 206 of these individuals.

Table 2. Types of punishment for different categories of officials and state employees

table2atable2b

56% of the bribes, for which persons were convicted in 2016 are the sums from 1 to 10 thousand UAH; 31% – sums from 10 to 100 thousand UAH. 8% entails bribes under one thousand UAH, other more than 4% are sums over 300 thousand UAH.

Bribe Amounts

Additionally there are 4 accused for receiving sums from 300 thousand to 2 million UAH.

2 million UAH – Petro Lysnyi, ex-Head of Petrykivska Regional State Administration of Dnipropetrovsk oblast was accused for receiving this sum. In autumn 2016 he was acquitted, but as of now the verdict was overturned and case is under review for new trial.

500 thousand UAH –  Volodymyr Burlachenko, Deputy Director – Head of Investigative Section of Financial Investigations of the Kremenchug United State Tax Inspectorate under the Ministry of Finance in the Poltava Oblast. He is sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment but the sentence has not come into force yet as it is under appeal.  

375 thousand UAH – Ihor Nemyrovskiy, ex-Deputy Head of the State Inspectorate for Agriculture of Ukraine. Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, the case is under appeal.  

300 thousand UAH – Andriy Shveda, Deputy Department Head and Head of the First Section of Criminal Investigations of the Financial Investigations Department of the State Tax Inspectorate in the city of Kramatorsk (Donetsk Oblast). Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, as of now the case is under appeal.  

First published on February, 23, 2017 at www.nashigroshi.org