The offer worth 22 million EUR: what Mykytas said on the NABU’s tape-recordings



by Valko Vadym, originally published by UP

Last week, the High Anti-Corruption Court held a hearing regarding the most high-profile bribery case during the full-scale invasion. The NABU exposed former Member of Parliament Maksym Mykytas, who wanted to give bribe in the amount of 22 million EUR to the Mayor of Dnipro Borys Filatov in order to get an agreement on the completion of construction of the subway outside the competition with the help of money of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The amount is record in the history of Ukrainian anti-corruption bodies.

Many interesting details were exposed at the court meeting regarding selection of preventive measure for Mykytas. In particular, about his communication with deputy head of the OP Oleg Tatarov, about influence on Members of Parliament, about role of Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna in this story, as well as about the fact with whom Mykytas had long-term “cooperation” from Kyiv office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The story begins in 2016, when the Turkish company Limak signed contract to complete the construction of the subway in the city of Dnipro. However, after the start of the full-scale invasion, the Turks did not want to work in new realities and left the facility. Later, there were rumours that the contract with them should be terminated at all.

At this moment, former Member of Parliament Maksym Mykytas appears on the horizon. By that time, he had been on the radar of anti-corruption authorities more than once.

In October 2019, Mykytas received suspicion regarding organization of “apartment scheme” to seize 81 million UAH from the National Guard. Today, he has the status of accused in the case, and the case itself is being considered in the High Anti-Corruption Court.

One year later, in September 2020, Mykytas received his second suspicion from the NABU. Namely, in the case regarding bribes during the construction of storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. In particular, detectives suspect Mykytas of handing over the bribe to official of Energoatom in the form of three apartments in new buildings in Kyiv. In addition to Mykytas, two other persons received suspicion. The case regarding them is already being considered at the HACC.

Mykytas received the third suspicion from the anti-corruption authorities in November 2020. It was about the transfer of the bribe to official of forensic institution of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Konstantyn Dubonos. Oleg Tatarov, current deputy head of the Office of the President, also received suspicion in this case. Unfortunately, fate of this case is sad, because it was “dumped” by efforts of the whole group of judges, prosecutors and investigators led by the leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

But in October 2022, the anti-corruption authorities appeared again in Mykytas’s life. And he received his fourth suspicion from them.

According to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Mykytas went to the Mayor of Dnipro Borys Filatov and allegedly offered cooperation. Filatov helps Mykytas’ companies to get direct contract for the completion of construction of the subway, and in return receives management company under his control. The company will receive 10% of each tranche according to the contract with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development until 2027. Since the total amount of agreement was 220 million EUR, the amount of bribe should have reached record 22 million EUR during five years.

In order to implement the scheme, the city hall of Dnipro and Mykytas allegedly had to create joint enterprise, which would include several companies with different functions. Namely: Tunelbud will be management company, Metrostroy, Ekobudtrade, Ukrhydroproject will perform contract work, Ilyashev and Partners will provide legal support, because it has experience working with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Filatov’s assistance consisted in the fact that he had to include Mykytas’ people in the negotiation group regarding the contract, appoint one of them as his adviser, and also sign letter of recommendation to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development regarding the group of companies controlled by Mykytas.

The version of defense party is radically different. Mykytas allegedly found out through acquaintances and residents of Dnipro about existence of the problem with unfinished subway. Because part of the tunnels dug under the subway will not survive winter and will simply collapse. That is why he came to the city council, showed a solution to the problem through the attraction of funds from the European Bank, and offered assistance in their attraction and further assistance with the completion of subway. He wanted to help the community so that the city of Dnipro would receive funds and additional jobs as soon as possible.

Mykytas explained that he had many contracts and developments on Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and he wanted to offer examples of such contracts and hand them over to the Mayor of Dnipro.

At the meeting with Filatov’s deputy, Mykytas proposed to write letter to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in which they should explain that stoppage of works on the construction of subway threatens the city with man-made catastrophe and significant flooding. This should have been an argument for the bank to agree to the city council the possibility to independently, that means without holding the competition, determine next general contractor for the completion of subway.

***

Mykytas called Filatov on August 19 via WhatsApp for the first time. He offered to have a meeting. At the meeting, they were supposed to discuss the possibility of companies, which are controlled by Mykytas, to receive contract for the completion of subway in Dnipro. Later, during the questioning, Filatov explained that he understood from the context of conversation that he was promised some kind of reward for his assistance, but what exactly this reward would be was not mentioned. Filatov will write statement to the NABU only on September 5, two weeks after the first conversation with Mykytas.

On September 12, Mykytas again had conversation with Filatov via messenger and said that he had answer from London (where the central office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is located) about possibility of replacing the general contractor in completion of the subway, but the city council should initiate the process.

The most interesting thing happened at the meeting of Filatov with Mykytas in the residential complex Amsterdam on October 4. Former Member of Parliament brought three folders with documents to it, talked in detail about his experience working with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and offered to work according to the similar scheme.

M. (pointing finger at the scheme): “I give you this (probably pointing to management company Tunelbud – AntAC). This, this and this (probably contracting companies – AntAC) will not receive a penny without signature of this one”.

F: 10% from what?

M.: from income, from invoice, from each signed invoice. There is balance in the amount of 220 million.

It is interesting that Filatov turned on noise-absorbing device. The prosecutor explained this fact as aimed at creating impression of confidentiality of the conversation.

М.: “There is group of companies and everyone gets, we submit joint contract, just an agreement. According to this agreement, it is prescribed that each company receives percentage from the invoice … And we begin to draw, roughly speaking, legal and financial support of the contract. Tunelbud will be management company here. It will receive 10% for management company… I just showed you three. I have ten such working contracts”.

Mykytas suggested to give management company under Filatov’s personal control. Filatov said the following during the interrogation: “He leaned towards me and quietly said that this company will receive 10% of the total amount, namely from 220 million EUR. This company will not have to perform any work. He also informed that he worked in the field of atomic energy according to the similar scheme. According to him, I will have guarantee of receiving my share, since the company Tunelbud will be the management company and other companies will not be able to receive funds without its approval”.

In return, Filatov had to prepare letter to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with proposal to start negotiations on changing the general contractor, and including representatives of Mykytas in the negotiating group under the guise of municipal employees. In addition, Mykytas offered Filatov to make Volodymyr Kashtanov, former head of the project Ukryttya, his adviser. Mykytas tore the sheet with drawn scheme into 4 parts, but Filatov kept them and later handed them over to detectives.

М.: I am not asking for more. Include my people in the delegation, well, with powers, so that they are together and agree on everything together. Before meeting they sit down together, talk openly and frankly, as one unit. They follow one goal, and not like there is separate group from Dnipro administration. They are not from Metrostroy, by no means from Metrostroy. They are from one team and have one goal.

F.: So, roughly speaking, they should be included as the delegation of Dnipro mayor’s office?

М.: Yes, yes, yes. As the delegation of Dnipro mayor’s office

F.: As whom will they represent Dnipro mayor’s office?

М.: As advisers, assistants, figure it out.

Mykytas also proposed his person as the nominal head of companies from the scheme:

М.: Look, I have an offer. Let’s say Kostya Saliy will act as my face. Do you know him?

F.: No, I don’t.

М.: Well, Saliy, if you remember. Saliy was deputy Minister of Transportation, the first deputy was Omelchenko, Ivan Saliy.

In court Mykytas did not deny the fact of conversation. He explained that during the meeting with Filatov, he had not offered anything and there had been such a large table that he simply could not bend over it.

Allegedly lawyers from the company Ilyashev and Partners prepared documents for Mykytas for the meeting with Filatov. It was this company that former Member of Parliament proposed to involve for the legal support during communication with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

М.: It’s not just like that. Ilyashev and Partners provide services regarding many processes for me. Many. By the way, they have office in Dnipro. They have one in Dnipro.

F.: Well, I’ve heard they seem to be a serious company.

М.: Yes, well. There we have full, well, this one with it. By the way, at that time there was voting when it was removed from this … today, the NABU is trying to dig something about her, about her.

F.: About Stefanishyna, right? (this is about Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna, who previously worked as adviser at the law firm Ilyashev and Partners – AntAC).

М.: Yes. They are directly, too. They had somewhere around 0.5%. But formally they will be legally, and they have good experience with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, they have good experience with Sadovyi and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. They will be officially.

Allegedly, they planned to involve the Cabinet of Ministers in the process through Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishyna. According to Mykytas’ plan, the Cabinet of Ministers had to recommend by its order certain companies, in particular, Metrobud, to conduct the work.

М.:We recently did this in Novodnistrovsk. We did the same thing. We are general contractors there. We recommended, let’s put it this way, to made order to the Cabinet of Ministers: to recommend Metrobud Consortium, group of companies Dneprmetro to the utmost respect. I’ve already dealt with this issue. I’m going a little ahead of the curve.

F.: And who will deal with this in the Cabinet of Ministers?

М.: Probably Stefanishyna. I talk to guys … we have a lot there. But this is like recommendatory story, such as order. But this will be the recommendation of the Cabinet of Ministers, why it was you who had advised Metrobud, but not Mykytas brought you something in a bag. This is what they recommend, support of domestic manufacturer. And there are no others, no one with experience, just noone.

М.: I asked Roma and Ilyashev (probably managing partners of the law firm – AntAC). They: Maks, show that she is with us. Everything is normal, but it should not walk around the administration. What am I speculating.

F.: Yes, calm down, it will not be so.

М.: Stefanishyna, yes. She helps. She will help.

They mentioned Stefynyshyna one more time, when Mykytas sent draft letter and following message to Filatov. Namely: “Good afternoon. Stefanishyna asked for such letter from Gosukrbud”.

Mykytas boasted of his influence on Members of Parliament:

М.: “Let’s say I have good relations with those from Kyiv. I managed to promote several Members of Parliament in 2019. I was still on top. Let’s say the head of Kyiv party Servant of the People Lesya Zaburanna. Member of Parliament, well, the one in Kyiv. She is the head of Servants of the People in the city of Kyiv, she passed in Darnytsya area. We volunteer a lot together”.

Also, in conversations with Filatov, Mykytas talked about his connections in Kyiv office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: “15 years of work with the Eurobank are not in vain. […] I will say a name, but it will remain between us. Valera Kulishenko. I have known him for 15 years, we were constantly side by side, constantly worked together. I went to him and it turned out, fortunately for me, that the entire Kyiv office moved to Warsaw, but the group “Chernobyl” (probably, this is about project related to the exclusion zone – edited) remained here (in Ukraine – edited) in charge.

Mykytas mentioned the same connections in conversations with officials of the city hall: “It turned out that there is technical side. Not even technical, but related to the war. Kyiv office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development moved to Warsaw, but one or two people should stay. Lucky for me, those guys, who worked with me on Chornobyl, stayed. I won’t call names, Valera, … I made consultation with hem. I held the so-called private consultation between us, for the sake of Ukraine. They were unpaid, unmotivated. This was private consultation. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is willing and ready to finance. As far as I know, you compiled very good, correct letter from Dnipro metro and sent it to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development thought it over and, as far as I understand, the answer was from London office that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was ready for direct contract… And this letter that has come is already 80% of success, based on my experience”.

Separately, Mykytas assured Filatov that his past would in no way harm joint work and boasted of his influence in the Verkhovna Rada. Namely:

М.: First of all, I’m not here anywhere.

F.: Ok.

М.: And I won’t be. Well, physically. I know how to manage from under … But today, in order Symonenko signed suspicions for me … I collected 50 signatures (of Members of Parliament – edited), without being Member of Parliament. 50 signatures were collected against Symonenko by Members of Parliament.

There were mentions in conversations regarding deputy head of the Office of the President Oleg Tatarov. At one time, the latter was chief lawyer at Mykytas’ company Ukrbud. They were friends, went on vacation together, and even almost at the same time received suspicion of bribery from the NABU:

М.:.  Well, Oleg Tatarov, yes. In 2014, we were close friends. Well, of course, less now. Well, we meet less, almost never meet. But nevertheless, he helped a lot in these. It was he who had helped. I don’t hide it.

The prosecutor assumed that the context of conversation was about Tatarov’s assistance in returning assets of the company Ukrbud to Mykytas. It happened in September of this year.

Also, Mykytas and Filatov discussed the story of deprivation of citizenship of Gennadiy Korban at the meeting and involvement of officials of the Office of the President in it:

F.: I think that Oleg (probably Tatarov – AntAC) has nothing to do in the story regarding Korban.

М.: I think so too.

F.: Most likely that Smirnov (deputy head of the OP – edited) made up these nasty things. Because issues related to citizenship, non-citizenship and everything else are the legal block, not the law enforcement.

М.: Yes, there are conflicts. As for Oleg. As for the criminal, Oleg is fine. As for economic affairs, it seems that someone puts him … (in certain position – edited).

The last meeting between Filatov and Mykytas took place on October 18 at the Radisson Hotel. Mykytas allegedly repeated his offer and brought the draft contract. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, it was draft of unofficial gentleman’s agreement between Mykytas and Filatov. According to it, Mykytas undertook to transfer control over the company Tunnelbud to Filatov, and Filatov in return had to ensure the participation of Mykytas’ people in negotiations with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and assistance in obtaining financing. The NABU arrested Mykytas after this meeting.

***

At the court meeting, the prosecutor asked to take Mykytas into custody with alternative bail of 200 million UAH. He justified this amount by possible risks (hiding from investigation, influencing witnesses, etc.), gravity of the crime, record size of the bribe, and suspect’s behavior in the past. The prosecutor noted that Mykytas’ declared income from 2013 to 2017 amounted to more than 415 million UAH. And he already traveled outside Ukraine once during the martial law.

The defense stated that risks were not justified, and Mykytas does not have 10, 5, or even 3 million UAH, and he could collect only 150,000 UAH. Mykytas himself explained that he is divorced, unemployed and has earned practically nothing during last two years. and all his property has been seized. The trip abroad was only for three days and he went as a volunteer.

As a result, investigating judge of the HACC Vitaliy Dubas recognized the suspicion of the SAPO as well-founded and chose to keep Mykytas in custody. At the same time, he set alternative bail even higher than the prosecutor had requested, namely 260 million UAH.

There will probably be sequel to this story, however Mykytas will definitely spend his near future in the pre-trial detention center.



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