The authorities created a worst-case scenario – activated a fictitious electronic declaration system of the assets of public officials that will undoubtedly have negative consequences on the country’s economy and jeopardise the European integration dialogue between Kyiv and the EU surrounding the visa-free regime.
On August 15th, 2016 the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption decided to initiate the e-declaration system in test mode, which does not give legal authority to declarations that are submitted.
So, the system works on a simulator – those involved in corruption are safe and there is something to show the internationals.
The system was launched in test mode under instructions from state leaders, who allowed petty officials of the State Service for Special Communications to refuse to issue a certificate of secured information which guarantees the authenticity and legal authority of the data entered in the declaration system.
Activating the system in test mode and the whole process of submitting the declarations of public officials to this system prevents holding them criminally liable for falsifying information in the declarations and illegal enrichment.
The cash from illegal arms trafficking, smuggling coal from the ATO, drug trafficking, kickbacks from procurements to the military and gas and oil can be recorded in the declaration without fear that someone will find out the source of the cash. This can only be done within the boundaries of the criminal process. However the system, while in test mode, theoretically does not allow for an investigation.
The National Agency on Corruption Prevention’s Governance – the only body which receives the declarations of public officials – is fully aware of the status of the system, but obviously runs it in test mode, ensuring impunity for officials.
Thus, the authorities demonstrate yet another fake, rather than a real, transparent system for asset declaration and give officials an instrument to legalize the illegal wealth they attained after the Revolution of Dignity.
However – this wasn’t the only gift. In addition to impunity, Ukrainian society will be refused the visa-free regime and the Hryvnia will collapse.
The launch of the e-declaration system in test mode does not fulfil the obligations undertaken by Kyiv for the visa-free regime with the EU and financial aid from international partners, including the scheduled $3 billion from the IMF and the 1.2 billion Euros from the EU this year alone.
By running the declaration system in test mode, giving it no legal authority, Ukraine is substantially hindering the activities of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which is investigating the crimes of declaring false information and the illegal enrichment of government officials and top politicians.
This – a step back in all anti-corruption reforms, is something the internationals will definitely not forgive.
After defaulting on the obligations promised to the EU and the United States, Ukraine will not be able to rely on their financial aid, which will inevitably lead to devaluation of the national currency and a protracted financial crisis.
Without international money, the national economy will not survive, and this fall, along with rising tariffs, Ukrainians will a dollar above 30 and another jump in prices.
The responsibility for this lies primarily with the State Service for Special Communications, which under directions from state leadership, at the last moment refused to grant a certificate for building a comprehensive system of data protection and did not give significant time to work on the system. Responsibility as well lies with the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, who instead of demanding the required certificate, launched the system in test mode granting freedom from criminal liability of public officials.
Moreover, the NACP and the State Service for Special Communications are starting another act in this tragicomedy – the promise to certify the system within two months. This is how much time is given by law to officials to complete another electronic declaration form.
At the exact time the final bureaucrats record their millions in the system – or completely refuse to do so – the system will stop being in test mode and Ukraine will introduce criminal liability for falsifying declarations. However, NABU won’t be able to put anyone behind bars.
What to do?
Poroshenko, Groisman, Turchinov and their subordinates at the NACP and the State Service for Special Communications should immediately – within 3 days – ensure that the system of electronic declaration receives a certificate by building a comprehensive information security system and to introduce the system in full operation, thus guaranteeing the possibility of holding officials accountable for declaring false information.
Those officials, who take advantage of the test mode regime of the system, should be required to resubmit their declarations once the certificate for the system is received.
After this, an internal investigation must be conducted and the names released of those whose actions resulted in the failure of the launching of the electronic declaration system, including the Chairman of the NACP, N. Korczak, and the Head of the State Service for Special Communications, L.Yevdovchenko.
Before all of this the finance minister Alexander Danyluk and Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine must be honest and warn of imminent Ukrainian financial turbulence and the possibility of the next depreciation of the hryvnia as a result of the failure to obtain the expected stabilization of financial assistance from international partners, an agreement the Ukrainian authorities again disregarded.