After 20,5 months of work on November 16, 2017 the selection panel unanimously chose Roman Truba as the director of the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) and Olga Varchenko as the first deputy director. With 6 out of 9 votes the panel selected Oleksandr Buryak as the deputy director.
According to the legislation, the SBI, which will take over investigations from the PGO, has to be established by November 20, 2017
SBI director is appointed by the President of Ukraine as recommended by the Prime Minister according to the conclusion of the selection panel. First deputy director and deputy director are appointed and dismissed by the SBI director upon the submission of the selection panel.
The SBI will be extremely powerful, as it takes over investigations functions from the PGO and becomes the main investigative agency regarding crimes committed by law enforcement officers, high-ranking officials, and judges – except corruption crimes committed by senior officials, which fall under the NABU jurisdiction.
Moreover, SBI has powers to investigate criminal offences of NABU and SAPO officials.
All three candidates selected for the posts of the SBI management are people from the prosecutor’s system. The legislation provides for collective adoption of all important personnel, organizational and financial tasks: they are to be decided by the director upon mandatory approval of the first deputy director and the deputy director.
Future SBI director Roman Truba worked in the prosecutor’s office in 1997-2015, and after the Revolution of Dignity in 2014-2015 chaired PGO department on investigation of especially important cases. In fact, the department head by Truba was in charge for investigating economic and corruption cases against former President Yanukovych and his allies, who were sanctioned by the EU. In 2015 he resigned and started to work as a head of a department at the legal company “Sector of Law”.
In addition, in his initial application for the competition, Truba aimed for the post of deputy director of the SBI, but later was somehow considered by the selection panel for the post of the director.
First deputy director
First deputy director of the SBI will be Olga Varchenko. Currently she is the head of PGO department on investigation of especially grave economic crimes (the so-called “Kononenko-Granovskyi department”), which she joined during the times of Viktor Shokin, previous Prosecutor General. Journalists reported that she was involved in a number of notorious cases, in addition they did investigation into her possible illicit enrichment (more details). Varchenko was prosecuting illegally AntAC back in spring 2016 for alleged embezzlement of U.S. financial assistance given for the reform of PGO (more details).
During the Revolution of Dignity Varchenko was deputy chief of the investigative department of Kyiv prosecutor’s office. This very department was 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 illegal persecution of activists.
Regarding the property, Varchenko owns a 106 sq.m. flat in Kyiv, an unfinished housing project – a 220 sq.m. house in Darnytskyi District of Kyiv, and a 2007 BMW X5 car. Her husband rents another flat, 114 sq.m., also in the capital, owns another unfinished housing project – a flat in the residential complex “Zakhysnyk” (“Protector”) 66 sq.m, and a 2008 Toyota Camry since January 2016 – while the registered owner of the car is Olha Varchenko herself.
In the meantime, former Member of Parliament Yegor Firsov published in his blog intermediate results of the selection process where both Truba and Varchenko upon the results of psychological testings on trustworthiness were considered as unreliable.
Former Kyiv deputy prosecutor Oleksandr Buryak was selected for the post of SBI deputy director.
The Law of Ukraine “On the State Bureau of Investigation” was adopted on November 12, 2015, and came into force on March 1, 2016. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, the SBI shall be established by November 20, 2017. It shall have 1,500 employees.
The SBI shall conduct pre-trial investigation of the crimes (except for corruption-related crimes) committed by:
- President of Ukraine whose powers were terminated;
- Prime Minister of Ukraine;
- Members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and their deputies;
- MPs of Ukraine;
- Prosecutor General of Ukraine and their deputies;
- Head of the National Bank of Ukraine and their deputies;
- Head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine and their deputies;
- Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and their deputies;
- Law enforcement officers;
- Members of the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting; member of the National Commission for State Regulation of Financial Services Markets; member of the National Commission on Securities and Stock Market; members of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine; members of the Central Election Commission; the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights; the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and their deputies; adviser or assistant to the President of Ukraine, the Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or the Prime Minister of Ukraine;
- Civil servants of category “A”, except for the cases when pre-trial investigation of these crimes is under the jurisdiction of the NABU;
- Officials of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine, prosecutors of the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, except when pre-trial investigation of these crimes is under the jurisdiction of the detectives of the NABU internal control department.
SBI will also investigate all criminal offences, including that related to corruption, committed by all staff of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office.
The selection panel has been working since March 1, 2016 and consists of nine members – three representatives of the President of Ukraine, three of the Government, and three – of the Verkhovna Rada. The decision of the selection panel is considered adopted if at least five members of the panel have voted for a particular candidate.
The process of the selections was tainted with scandals and delays.