An Ace Up Mykola Martynenko’s Sleeve (investigation)
In January of 2018 the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office completed pre-trial investigation of former MP Mykola Martynenko’s activities. He and his defence team were given access to the materials of his criminal proceeding on appropriation of funds of two public enterprises: National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” and Eastern Mining and Processing Works VostGOK. Former MP himself is suspected of committing crimes under four articles at once. However, the prosecutor that is supposed to soon prove Martynenko’s guilt in court may himself be held accountable because of his activities. On Thursday, March 29, the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors is to pass a decision concerning his disciplinary misconduct.
The journalists discovered that the prosecutor’s fate is now in hands of one of the heads of this Qualification Commission – Viktor Shemchuk, a person who might potentially be interested in helping Martynenko. He is to report on the prosecutor’s misconduct as well as to testify in the Energoatom’s funds embezzlement case. As the “Schemes” discovered, Shemchuk was involved in financial operation for the amount of 250 thousand EUR with an offshore firm controlled by Martynenko. His wife was fund manager of another firm, which was recipient of the aforementioned quarter million euros. Learn more about witnesses, financial operations and possible pressure on prosecution in the so-called Martynenko case by checking out the programme “Schemes” (joint project of Radio Liberty and television channel “UA:Pershyi”).
In the agenda of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors for March 29, 2018 it is planned to “review conclusion on disciplinary misconduct on the part of Specialized Anticorruption prosecutor of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine after consideration of disciplinary complaint from A. P. Boiko, attorney. Speaker: deputy head of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors V. V. Shemchuk”.
There are a few more “reprimands”, as prosecutors call it, on the agenda. However, it was this case that caught the eye of the journalists. Since Andrii Perov, prosecutor allegedly guilty of “disciplinary misconduct” is also prosecutor in Mykola Martynenko case. Petro Boiko, Martynenko’s lawyer was the one to file a complaint against the prosecutor. The person to consider the complaint and to report on it on March 29 is deputy head of the Commission Viktor Shemchuk, coincidentally witness in the case against Mykola Martynenko and his former associate.
Solomianskyi court hearing in the end of 2017 became formal grounds for the complaint against the prosecutor and subsequently review of this complain by the Commission. That day, Liudmyla Kiziun, the judge, granted motion of Mykola Martynenko’s defence and absolved him from the obligation to turn in his passport for foreign travel. Thus, he was free to leave the country at any time.
Here is what journalist Iryna Salii wrote in her blog on “Censor.net” about the final part of the hearing “…the prosecutor did not listen till the end and stormed out”.
“Slamming the door. Such behaviour is not an adequate reaction on the part of the prosecutor. If we, lawyers, showed our attitude this way every time we lost the case in court, you see… we would lose our license. It was unethical, in poor taste”, – says Petro Boiko, Martynenko’s lawyer.
He was the one that decided to file a complaint against prosecutor Perov to the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors for contempt of court. “Prosecutor must be objective and not be led by his emotions and all such revolutionary motives. I was witness and participant of this trial, I am entitled to my reaction, so I filed the complaint”, – added Petro Boiko.
Roman Symkiv, chief of the fourth department of procedural management and Perov’s immediate supervisor, refutes lawyer’s words.
“After the prosecutor heard the decision of the court, he left for another court hearing, as he was in a hurry. Perov was not under obligation to wait until the very end of the court hearing and it was not his fault that the window was opened and there was draught. The judge, however – we have been listening to the recording – did not make any pause when reading the decision, even though she could do it and make note of disrespect, and bring it to attention of those present, so that it would be reflected in the recording. Yet she did nothing of the above”, – explained his employee’s actions Roman Symkiv in his comment to the “Schemes”.
What is more, according to Symkiv, conclusion on disciplinary misconduct in prosecutor Perov’s action is based solely on claims of two Martynenko’s lawyers and one mass media publication, without anything from the judge herself. That is the reason why Symkiv believes that this is nothing but putting pressure on prosecution in the case. As one such “reprimand” is included in a prosecutor’s file, and the second one results in him/her being losing his job in prosecution bodies.
“I believe that at the moment the complaint has no proof of any misconduct and is solely a tool to put pressure on prosecutor Perov who participates in most hearing in the criminal proceeding against Martynenko and is also the most qualified prosecutor in the group of prosecutors. In my opinion, the fact that right now when the case is to be submitted to court, the appearance of this complaint and decision of the deputy head of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission is meant to demonstrate that Martynenko has got connections. In one of the hearings in Kyiv Court of Appeal Martynenko actually uttered the phrase that prosecutors will be fired, sooner or later”, – adds Symkiv.
Speaker or witness?
There is one important twist in this story which might explain the appearance of complaint against the prosecutor. It is about Viktor Shemchuk, the one that reviewed the complaint and prepared the conclusion for hearing by the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission that there actually was disciplinary misconduct on the part of prosecutor Perov. Shemchuk is a deputy head of this very Commission.
That is not all. He is also witness in the case of misappropriation of funds of “Energoatom”.
“I can only say that he is one of key witnesses, as he was the one involved in certain financial operations of company BRADCREST INVESTMENTS S.A., controlled by Martynenko. It is not by accident that he became witness in this criminal proceeding. We have all the documents that prove it and in court, after the case is transferred, we will certainly call for Shemchuk to testify”, – says prosecutor Roman Symkiv.
According to the NABU’s official data, in 2008-2012 the public enterprise “Energoatom”signed several contracts with Czech firm Škoda JS at inflated prices. Subsequently the Czech company transferred the total of 6.4 million EUR of “interest” to the accounts of Panama offshore BRADCREST INVESTMENTS S.A. according to the detectives investigating the case, Mykola Martynenko is the beneficiary owner of the company.
The “Schemes” journalist team was able to uncover that during June of 2010 (around the time when, according to investigation the contracts with Czech Škoda JS were signed) it was BRADCREST INVESTMENTS S.A. accounts from which 250 thousand EUR was transferred to the account of another offshore – UKRAINE SPIRIT INC from the British Virgin Islands. This information can be found in public sources – namely in the Register of court decisions.
In September of 2017 the NABU detectives requested Solomianskyi district court to give permission to review documents from Latvian bank SC REGIONALA INVESTICIJU BANKA concerning money transfer from the account of one offshore to the other. Aforementioned judge Liudmyla Kiziun granted this permission.
Interesting detail, Viktor Shemchuk, now deputy head of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors, was involved in this financial operation. At the time, in 2010, he was Member of Parliament of faction “Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc” (“Nasha Ukrayina – Narodna Samooborona”), which, coincidentally, was then headed by Mykola Martynenko.
UKRAINE SPIRIT INC
As the “Schemes” discovered, around that time Viktor Shemchuk was looking for money to finance participation of Ukrainian team in the USA Championship. As, in addition to being a MP, he was also president of National Federation of Water Motor Sports of Ukraine.
Here, in 2009 publication of “Censor.net” we can see that Shemchuk raised money from different sponsors.
It looks like he was able to raise the money, after all. In 2011 on the news one could hear about participation of Ukrainian team by the same name as the abovementioned offshore company from the Virgin Islands, only in translation – “Ukrainian Spirit”:
“All participants of the race will remember “Seagull” crew and Viktor Shemchuk’s boat number 55. These two teams from “Ukrainian Spirit” projects got first places in their respective classes”, – they then said on “Inter” television channel.
According to the “Schemes” information, 250 thousand EUR that UKRAINE SPIRIT INC received on their Latvian account was exactly the money that Shemchuk was looking for in order to finance participation of Ukrainian team in international championship.
Moreover, it turned out that Viktor Shemchuk’s wife, Natalia, is fund manager for offshore company UKRAINE SPIRIT INC. This information was verified by the NABU’s press-center: “In the criminal proceeding materials there are documents that confirm that the wife of the person mentioned in the inquiry … is really a beneficiary of the legal entity “UKRAINE SPIRIT INC.”.
By the way, Viktor Shemchuk is still heading the National Federation of the Water and Motor Sports of Ukraine. His last name is included in the official 2018 calendar of the sport organization.
Viktor Shemchuk managed to hold high-profile positions while three Presidents of the state changed. In Yushchenko’s times he was appointed President’s permanent representative in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, later was acting Prosecutor General. In Yanukovych’s times, he headed Lviv Oblast State Administration. Now, when Poroshenko is the President, he is deputy head of the commission that determines whether those aspiring to be prosecutors are sufficiently qualified, determines disciplinary punishment as well as transfers prosecutors or fires them.
During his time serving the public Shemchuk was able to accrue a bit of assets. According to the State Register of Property Rights to Immovable Property, Shemchuk now, along with his wife Natalia, owns a private house in Feodosia (total of 300 sq.metres), a house and a flat in Ternopil (220 sq.metres and 86.7 sq.metres respectively), two plots of land in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (0.5 ha each) and a private house in Irpin near Kyiv (about 270 sq.metres).
“There is no conflict of interest”
Before the ballot in favour of conclusion concerning reprimand to the prosecutor in the case against Martynenko the “Schemes” journalists were able to talk to Viktor Shemchuk in person. Before even hearing the question concerning the complaint, he already had his answer all ready.
“The decisions concerning prosecutors of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office as well as other prosecutors will be passed lawfully. There must be no pressure on the Commission, including that from the journalists”, – said Shemchuk.
He believes his reporting on the complaint against the prosecutor and testifying in case against Mykola Martynenko is not a conflict of interest.
“No conflict of interest whatsoever. …As Commission member’s opinion does not equal Commission’s opinion. Commission member will not participate neither in discussion nor in vote”, – explained deputy head of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors.
There is no doubt about his conclusion, though, as “apparent misconduct” is right in the agenda.
As for the firm UKRAINE SPIRIT INC, Shemchuk said that he knows of such company, also he added that “this offshore firm stopped existence, to his knowledge, since 2013”. He is also familiar with Mykola Martynenko: “they talked in five years when he was Member of Parliament of Ukraine”. Shemchuk refused to elaborate on the topic of sport sponsorship by his former fellow party member saying that he is not at liberty to discuss that.
As for former Member of Parliament and former head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex Mykola Martynenko himself, he also got a written request enquiring whether he sees any conflict of interest. As Viktor Shemchuk, deputy head of the Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors is not just his long-standing ally, but also his wife is linked to the offshore on whose account 250 thousand EUR was transferred from the company BRADCREST INVESTMENTS S.A., controlled by Martynenko (according to the NABU’s information).
Mykola Martynenko in his written reply, passed through his assistant, said that “Kyiv department of Radio Liberty is deliberately using invalid information in their materials, which was not confirmed by court decision”.
“Among the questions there was an attempt to link me with some officials. Some firm, allegedly associated with me some individuals “link” with someone’s family – is that what Radio Liberty considers a proper information source?” – this can be found in the response of the former Member of Parliament.
Mykola Martynenko also mentioned other Radio Liberty publications featuring his name, which, in his opinion, show “signs of bias, non-objectiveness, systemic information war against me in the NABU’s interests and those of other politically-motivated opponents”.
In the end, the ex-MP delivered a warning: “After I prove my absolute innocence in court, I will consider options of legal reaction to mass-media publications and those of some politicians that consistently try to discredit me. It would be very unfortunate if Radio Liberty was among those media”.
Original text: https://www.radiosvoboda