The “Rotterdam+” case: how the newly appointed head of the SAPO changed rules of the game

by Vitaliy Shabunin, originally published by UP

The latest decisions in the case “Rotterdam+ scheme” clearly showed how one honest person in the system in leadership position can change rules of the game.

This is the answer to the question why we at the Anti-Corruption Action Center, together with our partners, fought for fair competition for the position of the head of the SAPO for such a long time. This competition really determined the fate of anti-corruption changes in the country for following years.

Yesterday, Oleksandr Klymenko, the new head of the SAPO, with just one decision gave chance for existence and for consideration in the court of the “Rotterdam+” case, the scheme of oligarch Akhmetov, who at one point decided to earn 40 billion UAH from citizens of Ukraine.

We have repeatedly stated that the case is ready to be sent to the court and the only question is courage and honesty of prosecutors who conduct it. Unfortunately, there were none in the SAPO nor in the Prosecutor General’s Office before appointment of the head of the SAPO.

Moreover, prosecutors did everything to bury the case: they were failing the deadlines, illegally closed case for 4 times.

Yesterday’s decision of Klymenko to cancel the illegal closure of this case renewed investigation and launched the number of other important decisions. Namely:

  • prosecutors who dumped the case were changed
  • notices of suspicion have been changed
  • indictment has been prepared
  • investigation has been completed and materials have been opened to the defense for review.

Today, one of episodes worth almost 19 billion UAH will be transferred to the court after the prosecution gets acquainted with materials.

The anti-corruption prosecutor’s office officially announced that this is not the end. 19 billion UAH are losses for only part of the period of 2016-2017. In general, experts estimate that during the entire period of validity of the formula, losses reached almost 40 billion UAH. Therefore, investigation regarding the episode in 2017-2018 will be extended.

Of course, the final point in case, which should be the decision of the court, is still far away. The serious struggle is ahead. But we would not have chance for real deoligarchization at all without such decisions and their courageous implementers in the law enforcement system.

I should remind you that two months have not even passed since the appointment of new head of the SAPO, but we already have significant results in high-profile cases. Namely, disclosure of schemes of Kolomoyskyi in Ukrnafta, Akhmetov in DTEK and “manual” members of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities, suspicions were finally handed over to Member of Parliament Trukhin in the case of road accident and traitorous Member of Parliament Derkach.

We would not be surprised if Klymenko is attacked by oligarchs and the government after these cases. Therefore, the first task is to legally protect him from these attacks through amendments to the law. We have already stated that the SAPO is the least protected among all anti-corruption institutions, and therefore it is necessary to create additional safeguards against illegal pressure and influence.

For instance, we should recall the last decision of the HACC regarding the “Rotterdam+” case in this story. Namely, when the Appeals Chamber actually refused to renew this case. They did it on the very day when the oligarch Akhmetov celebrated his birthday. Experts of the AntAC were surprised by the text of summary court decision, from which the content of court decision is not clear at all.

The unexpected thing was that during one year of consideration, the court did not manage to immediately form its opinion in clear way and issued only shortened text, the content of which can be adjusted as desired now. The full text of court decision will become known only on September 26.

Unfortunately, the Anti-Corruption Court turned out to be the “Trojan horse” under these conditions. New strange arguments can still be expected from it. At the same time, we hope that the decision of head of the SAPO will demonstrate the vital leadership in this system that will not allow the “Rotterdam+” case to be buried.

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