Parliament adopted number of anti-corruption bills
Today,on October 14, 2014 the Parliament of Ukraine voted for the so-called “anti-corruption package of laws”, developed during the last few months jointly by civic society, government, president, anti-corruption committee of the parliament and international organizations.
Among them are the following:
1. The Law of Ukraine “On grounds of state anti-corruption policy in Ukraine (Anti-corruption strategy) for 2014 -2017 years”, which outlines a road map for anti-corruption reforms needed in Ukraine, including a list of laws needed to be developed and adopted.
2. The Law of Ukraine“On changes to a few legislative acts regarding notions of beneficial owners of companies and national politically exposed persons”, which requires companies to report information about their beneficial owners to the public state registry, opens public access to state registry of owners of immovable property and strengthens national anti-money laundering regime (AML), introducing the notion of politically exposed persons (PEPs). Public registry of beneficial owners, as well as access to public database of owners of immovable property is condition of the EU-Ukraine state building contract. Introduction of national peps is one of IMF requirements to strengthen AML regime
3. The Law of Ukraine“On prevention of corruption”, which establishes strong control of conflict of interests and establishes system of electronic assets declaration filing. There will be established National prevention commission, which will analysis asset declarations and lifestyle of senior state officials. Effective prevention system with strong assets declaration control is one of World Bank requirement to Ukraine.
4. The Law of Ukraine “On the system of special designated agencies on fighting corruption” (“On National Anti-corruption Agency”), which establishes National Anti-corruption Agency. The Agency will have investigative powers, includes strong guarantees of independence and will focus on corruption crimes of senior state officials. Finally, the law embeds article 20 of UNCAC introducing crime of illicit enrichment. Adoption of the law on independent investigative anti-corruption agency by the end of October 2014 is one of key structural benchmarks of the IMF-Ukraine stand by agreement. Additionally, the EU-Ukraine State-building contract requires Ukraine to ensure the Agency operates by September 2015.
However, we are concerned with certain “last moment” amendments that endanger integrity and independence of future National Anti-corruption Agency.
On the night prior parliament voting some political players suggested amendments to the final version of the draft law. This was intentionally made at the very last moment to put this amendments out of control of civil activists.
First of all, Agency became politically dependent on Parliament by introduction of right of non-confidence vote. Amendments also dismissed requirement for the candidates to Agency’s officials to pass polygraph check and not to work in law enforcement bodies for last 5 years. Amendments also declined financial and social guarantees for officials of the Agency.
A few last-moment changes were also introduced to the draft law #5113 and #5114, but we will be able to assess them a bit later.
The effectiveness of the adopted laws will depend on their implementation, thus strong civic control is needed to use them as strong anti-corruption tools in tackling grand political corruption.