At a meeting held on 13 September, members of the Council of Judges voted for dishonest candidates to the Selection Commission, which will select members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges.
At the same time, the Council of Judges refused to delegate its representatives to the Ethics Council, which will review the integrity of members and candidates for the High Council of Justice. This is a key part of the reform, as it directly cleanses the judiciary.
The Council of Judges (and its chairman, Bohdan Monich) ignored the direct provision of the law and decided not to delegate any representatives to the Ethics Council. While only one representative from the Council of Judges is enough to start the work of the Ethics Council, which consists of international experts with a decisive vote.
We would like to note that several judges, known for their integrity, have shown a willingness to join this body.
Meanwhile, the Council of Judges has delegated 3 representatives to the Selection Commission of the HQCJ, two of whom are openly corrupt. So the Council of Judges was able to select those persons regarding whom there are serious concerns on integrity. According to the Council of Judges, they deserve to engage in judicial reform. Who are they?
Yevhen Mezentsev, Deputy Chairman of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal. The judge made a rapid career under Yanukovych. In May 2011, Mezentsev was transferred to the Donetsk Commercial Court of Appeal, and within a month he became deputy chairman of the court. A year later, in May 2012, Mezentsev was transferred to the Donetsk District Administrative Economic Appeal Court, and in June of the same year he headed it.
In September 2013, he became a judge of the Dnipropetrovsk Administrative Court of Appeal, and two months later, in November 2013, he was transferred to the position of a judge of the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal and immediately headed it.
Mezentsev lost his position as court chairman in 2014 on the basis of the Law of Ukraine “On Restoration of Confidence in the Judiciary”, but in 2018 he was re-elected Deputy Chairman of the Court (since 2018 the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal has been reorganized into the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal).
The judge repeatedly made dubious decisions. In June 2019, during the parliamentary election campaign, Mezentsev was a member of the panel of judges, which decided that the fugitive People’s Deputy Oleksandr Onyschenko was not actually hiding from the investigation, but was participating in international equestrian competitions. Judges ordered the CEC to register Onishchenko as a candidate for the Socialist Party.
In February 2018, a panel of judges with Mezentsev’s participation rejected a lawsuit challenging the issuance of a license to develop gas fields in the Poltava region to the little-known Arkona Gas-Energy company. In September 2019, the Supreme Court overturned this decision. As the journalists of the “Schemes. Corruption in Details” project found out, the company is connected with Oleksiy Malovatsky, a member of the High Council of Justice. It is noteworthy that at the time of the decision, the HCJ considered the complaint against the judges, and after the decision in favour of the company associated with Malovatsky, the HCJ refused to open a disciplinary case.
The judge also made dubious decisions in cases against Privatbank. Thus, in November 2017, the judge upheld the decision of the court of lower instance, according to which Ihor Surkis was declared a person unrelated to Ihor Kolomoisky and Privatbank, and was obliged to collect UAH 1 billion from the bank in his favour. This decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court. In March 2021, the judge suspended the proceedings in the case of appealing the scandalous decision, which declared the nationalization of Privatbank illegal.
In July 2020, Mezentsev publicly opposed the draft Anti-Corruption Strategy, which also addresses the issue of establishing a fair and honest court in Ukraine. He denied the need for constant monitoring of the judge’s life and the need for integrity checks.
Ivan Mishchenko, Judge of the Commercial Court of Cassation of the Supreme Court. According to the opinion of the Public Integrity Council, which was ignored by the HQCJ during the competition for the Supreme Court, the judge was likely to conceal income from the attorney work. As a managing partner of the law firm “Trusted Advisors”, which according to various ratings is one of the 50 best law firms in Ukraine, he earned only 177,879 UAH (approx. 7,000 in 5 years), while saving 70,000 USD. In addition, the Public Integrity Council drew attention to Mishchenko’s possible use of a scheme to interfere in the distribution of cases between judges, but the HCJC ignored this information and recommended that Mishchenko be appointed to the Supreme Court.
According to the “Schemes. Corruption in Details” project, two weeks after his appointment to the Supreme Court, the judge secretly visited the Presidential Administration. The judge referred to the work of the Judicial Reform Council, but was not a member of the body. It is noteworthy that Oleksiy Filatov was in charge of the judiciary in Poroshenko’s administration, whom Mishchenko mentioned in his questionnaire as a person who could recommend him.