Who Is Olha Varchenko? Investigation
On March 1, 2016, the Law “On State Bureau of Investigation” came into force – the body that would investigate criminal proceedings featuring law enforcement officers, judges and high-ranking officials. It will take on the function of pre-trial investigation that is now the responsibility of the prosecutor’s office, and will be fully formed by November 20, 2017.
It is mainly due to the fact that the SBI is to take over the present prosecutor’s office functions, a great many employees of the latter are trying to get in. We took time to analyze those eyeing positions in the new law-enforcement body with such wide and important powers.
Meet Olha Oleksandrivna Varchenko, Head of the Division of the Proceedings Control, State Prosecution and Representation in the Court of the Department for Investigation of Particularly Important Cases in the Field of Economy of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. Mrs. Varchenko is considered one of the main candidates for the position of the head of the State Bureau of Investigation.
Olha Varchenko can boast of the rapid career advancement. For instance, according to her autobiography, she started working for the prosecutor’s office as early as 2002, fresh from the university, and as none other than assistant to the prosecutor of Darnytskyi district of Kyiv. In 2009, Olha Varchenko is already a senior investigating officer and then Deputy Head of the Division of Supervision over Law Observance by Internal Affairs Authorities in Inquiry and Pre-Trial Investigation at the Prosecutor’s Office of Kyiv City. In February of 2016, she starts working at the Prosecutor General’s Office, and as soon as June 2016, she already heads the Division of the Proceedings Control, State Prosecution in the Court (due to a certain political engagement of the department it is popularly referred to as “Kononenko-Hranovskyi department”). On June 28, 2017, the president of Ukraine awards Olha Varchenko the title of the Honoured Lawyer of Ukraine. We looked into accomplishments of the 35-year-old Prosecutor’s Office employee to find out what exactly merited the title, and discovered some interesting facts.
Working for the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office, Olha Varchenko managed to feature in a number of notorious cases. Namely, in 2014, mass media published information on her role in a scam which resulted in seizure of an automobile from Kyiv resident Oleh L., who had legally purchased the vehicle. According to the Darnytskyi Court of Kyiv decision on case No. 753/19554/14-к, in 2013 and 2014 Varchenko O.M., common-law husband of aforementioned Varchenko O.O., was using a 2010 Volkswagen Touareg, which legally was property of another person. In the summer of 2014, Varchenko O.M. handed over the car to his acquaintance for further sale, and in July another person, Oleh L. purchased it filing all the necessary documents. However, in October 2014, the road police stopped the new owner and his vehicle was seized because of an allegedly open criminal case. According to the case, Varchenko’s acquaintance allegedly acquired the vehicle illegally.
Extract from court decision:
M. Varchenko was questioned as a witness and testified that he had been using Volkswagen Touareg car, state registration plate AA 30-90 PI, owned by A. A. Kolizhuk. With the consent of the latter, he put the car on sale. At the end of June 2014, he handed Volkswagen Touareg car, state registration plate AA 30-90 PI, along with the keys and the vehicle registration certificate, to his acquaintance A. Ladyka who engaged in selling the car. Later, A. Ladyka made delays reporting the car sale, then he stopped answering phone calls and did not return the car. Moreover, the pre-trial investigation found out that Volkswagen Touareg car, state registration plate AA 30-90 PI, body no. WVGZZZ———– was deregistered 24.07.2014, and 29.07.2014 it was registered with the state registration plate AA —- MT to Oleh ———, 1978, residing in Kyiv.
According to the mass media, this is a typical scamming of civilians by the law enforcement officers. Although it could have been that the Varchenkos’ acquaintance did not in fact give him the money received for the sale of the Touareg, and then the law-enforcement spouses decided to seize the property by resorting to methods available to them. By the way, at the time Varchenko O.M. was working at the Kyiv City Department of State Service for Combating Economic Crime. Public will never know whether he and his wife declared their right to use the expensive car in 2013, as these declarations are not open to the public and we cannot verify this fact.
An even more publicized scandal, linked to the name of Olha Varchenko, took place when she was already working at the Prosecutor General’s Office. The scandal concerned the falsified case against the NGO “Anti-corruption Action Center”. It was the first organized attack against the NGOs making anti-corruption efforts and reforming the law enforcement. The Prosecutor General’s Office opened a preposterous criminal case concerning the alleged embezzlement of funds, received from the US government. The Prosecutor General’s Office came to such conclusions based on their receiving no funds from the project. The US ambassador was quick to refute the allegations, while the deputy Prosecutor General Mr.Stoliarchuk nearly caused the international scandal, having announced that the PGO was about to call the ambassador in for questioning despite his diplomatic immunity. In the end, the case was closed.
However, in that period the prosecutor’s office was taking full advantage of their powers and managed to obtain and execute over 40 rulings on seizure of documents, conducting searches and other investigative actions. The “Anti-corruption Action Center” believe that in order to obtain such rulings documents were falsified at the Prosecutor’s office, and Olha Varchenko played the key role in it. It was glaringly obvious from the very beginning that there was no corpus delicti in the case. The society rightly took it as putting pressure on NGOs and a U-turn on reforms at the prosecutor’s office. Interestingly, soon after the case Olha Varchenko was promoted to Head of the division. She must have proved somehow that she would readily follow any instructions.
Mrs. Varchenko’s work at the Prosecutor’s office in the Euromaidan times also raises many issues. At the time, she was deputy chief of the investigative department of the prosecutor’s office in Kyiv. It was the very department supposed to react to numerous reports from the protesters on crimes committed by the Berkut police officers and road police falsifying reports against drivers for trips to Mezhyhiria in December of 2013. Then the Prosecutor’s office refused to open cases, thus covering up criminals and encouraging persecution of activists. Without a doubt, Olha Varchenko at the very least was aware of these facts. Yet, she passed the lustration processes with flying colours and is not subject in any of the Maidan cases.
As for her profits, having analyzed Mrs.Varchenko’s declaration, for 2015 and 2016, we can see that salaries are the primary source of income of Olha Varchenko and her spouse, who works at the Department of Economy Protection of the National Police. In her 2016 declaration there is mention of a loan of 200 thousand UAH received by Olha Varchenko from her father.
Regarding the property, Olha Varchenko owns a 106 sq.m. flat in Kyiv. Her husband rents another flat, 114 sq.m., also in the capital.
Olha Varchenko also owns an unfinished housing project – a 220 sq.m. house in Darnytskyi District of Kyiv. We visited the listed address and found that construction was at its final stage while the area of the unfinished house is much larger than 220 sq.m.
Husband of Mrs. Varchenko owns another unfinished housing project – a flat in the residential complex “Zakhysnyk” (“Protector”) 66 sq.m. Housing Construction Cooperative «Zakhysnyk» is a housing cooperative for the officers of the National Police in the city of Kyiv. The officers of the National Police that need to improve their housing conditions can be members of the cooperative. Thus Oleksandr Varchenko’s participation in the cooperative is questionable as his family owns a flat and they are completing construction of a private house in Kyiv.
Olha Varchenko owns some movable property – a 2007 BMW X5 car, in which she was repeatedly seen by the journalists. Prosecutor Varchenko’s mother owns a 2006 Skoda Octavia, prosecutor’s husband owns a 2008 Toyota Camry since January 2016 – while the registered owner of the car is Olha Varchenko herself. Curiously, according to the 2015 declaration, another person was the car’s owner, thus Olha Oleksandrivna Varchenko purchased it in 2016.
The declared expenses of Olha Varchenko should get a special mention. Olha and her family paid over half a million UAH worth of loans in 2016. In the beginning of the year the total of her cash and bank accounts was 674,587 UAH. It means that in the beginning of the year, before paying their loans, they possessed over one million UAH, which does not add up to the family’s official income, taking into account expenses on construction and purchase of a car.
As you can see, there are numerous issues with Olha Varchenko’s professional activities, as well as her declarations. The most important question is as follows: can a person with such reputation head the State Bureau of Investigation?
We will forward the data to the National Anti-corruption Bureau, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, the Prosecutor General’s Office. PROSUD.
Published on July, 6 at http://blog.prosud.info/varchenko_olga_oleksandrivna.html