SAPO closes the case against Avakov’s son and Chebotar – NABU

The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office closes the criminal proceeding against the son of the acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov – Oleksandr, and his former deputy Serhii Chebotar, who are involved in the so-called ” backpacks case”, National Anti-Corruption Bureau informed Scheme TV program, a joint project of Radio Liberty and TV channel UA:First.

“According to the detective’s report, SAPO prosecutor Vasyl Krychun called him yesterday and said that he had issued a decision to close the criminal proceeding against Oleksandr Avakov and Serhii Chebotar,” the Bureau reported.

As for who will ultimately be held liable in this criminal proceeding, according to NABU, this would be the third suspect Volodymyr Lytvyn, the representative of the company which won a tender for the supply of backpacks, “according to the prosecutor, he pleaded guilty of fraud and forgery of documents.”

The Anti-Corruption Bureau considers this decision unclear and inconsistent.

“In April 2018, NABU detectives together with SAPO prosecutors approved the decision that all evidences were obtained, and opened the case files to the defense side for review. After that, at the request of the prosecutors, the detectives prepared a volume register and an indictment regarding all three suspects, which are only needed in case of referral to the court”, – NABU informed.

Currently, NABU is trying to get copies of decisions on closing the criminal proceeding against Oleksandr Avakov and Serhii Chebotar.

“We can only state that on July 10, a note from SAPO prosecutor appeared in the Unified register of pre-trial investigations. It concerned reopening of pre-trial investigation in case of backpacks at the stage of acquaintance [with case evidences]. On the next day the prosecutor informed about the closing of cases against two key suspects. Back on June 12 the detectives filed a petition to the court for the restriction of terms for defense side to review the case files. SAPO prosecutor did not support this petition then, thus detectives filed it on their own. At the moment, this petition is not considered”, – the NABU reported.

Radio Liberty asked the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office to comment this and is still waiting for the answer.

On April 5, NABU reported about the completion of the pre-trial investigation in the so-called “backpacks case”, involving Oleksandr Avakov, the son of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

NABU investigates the possible misappropriation of public funds for the purchase of backpacks by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for fighters in Eastern Ukraine. In October 2017 after the searches in this case, upon suspicion of misappropriation of  more than 14 million UAH three people were detained: Serhii Chebotar, the representative of the company who won a tender for the supply of backpacks (Volodymyr Lytvyn) and another “private person” (as Oleksandr, the son of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, was called).

According to NABU, in 2015, these individuals were involved in procurement of backpacks at the expenses of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at a price significantly higher than the average market price.

Oleksandr Avakov called this case a political one. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, to which Oleksandr Avakov formally has no relationship, called NABU actions “political and not legally grounded”. The Minister Arsen Avakov stated that his son was not involved in misappropriation of budget funds.

In early 2016, Scheme’s journalists found and analyzed videos that look like hidden camera recordings in the office of Serhii Chebotar, the then Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. He was in charge of government procurements in the Ministry till May 2015. The video shows a dialogue about backpacks purchase between supposedly Oleksandr, the son of the Minister Avakov and a person that looks like Serhii Chebotar. They were agreeing to give a budget contract to the son of the Minister bypassing legal tender procedure.

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