Financial Investigation Bureau: another body of pressure on business or independent institution?

The Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs is actively considering the draft law before the second reading that establishes the Financial Investigation Bureau in our country. During the process of its preparation Members of Parliament allegedly have “forgotten” the main purpose and cause of creation of this institution. Namely, this is establishment of single independent body that will investigate economic crimes and replace tax police, department “K” in the SBU and specialized department of the National Police. All of them were subjects of numerous scandals and cases focused on pressure on business.

It is worth mentioning one of the last cases when employees of the SBU simply released the international drug dealer at the airport. On the other hand, we should remind that the company of Putin’s friend, that transports unique high quality quartzite to Russia in particularly large amounts, was not included to the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council thanks to this service.

At the same time, subjects of the NABU cases are ready to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes so that their case was transferred to the jurisdiction of police. And the latter will certainly “bury” the case.

After all, we see “successes” of these bodies in journalists’ investigations. For instance, the case about luxury car fleets of employees of the SBU.

However, it turned out that Members of Parliament did not remove such legislative powers from the Security Services of Ukraine while creating new institution aimed at conducting financial investigations.

Though the latter doesn’t have the right to investigate economic crimes, but its infamous department “K” is engaged in operational support of such investigations. That is why the website of the body is filled with reports about disclosure of conversion centers and capture of small bribe takers, which do not belong to its jurisdiction. In general, there are more than two thousand people in the department who “fight against organized crime and corruption”.

The Rada of the last convocation has already made mistake when it had not liquidated the department “K” during the creation of the NABU. So, now the SBU and this department not only duplicate the work of the Bureau, but they have started to fight against it.  I should remind the scandal regarding the disclosure of secret agents of the NABU by the SBU and the PGO. It arose because the Bureau began to attack schemes that were covered by the Security Service.

There is no reason to keep this department now. The sole argument of the SBU for keeping this department is that it accompanies operational work of other agencies and fights against organized crime. It seems that crime will flood our country after its liquidation.

This argument is refuted very simply: investigative bodies should fight against organized crime only within framework of their own jurisdiction and with help of methods of criminal proceedings. There is no corruption and no economics in the SBU’s jurisdiction. That is why the NABU, the SBI, the police, the newly created FIB have to fight against crime within their own jurisdiction and with help of their employees. By the way, the investigation in the SBU should also be canceled over time because this is not the subject of the special service.

Instead, the overall struggle of the Security Service with everything must go back in time, as well as the Prosecutor General’s “general control” was cancelled. Prosecutors at that time also had argument that the state would be trapped in lawlessness. However, the prosecution has been operating without this function during 5 years. And it certainly has not gotten worse. At the same time, prosecutors were deprived of excessive and unjustified powers and resources.

So, right now, the Rada has the opportunity to take the historic step, namely to liquidate the scandalous department “K”. This will affect the reform of the SBU in no way, which is being prepared in the body and the Office of the President, but it will contribute to it.  After all, without liquidation of doubtful department it will not be accepted by society or international partners. It will also directly contradict the presidential election promises.

Another fundamental factor during the creation of the Financial Investigation Bureau is the competitive selection process. The transparent and open competition helped to select the NABU’s independent head at one time, and the imperfect procedure caused the failure during the selection of members to the NACP.

Without liquidation of unnecessary functions and staff of the SBU and without independent competitive procedure, the Financial Investigation Bureau will become another body of pressure on business.

Everything is still possible to fix at the meeting of the Committee that will continue the consideration of the draft law on November 8 at 2 p.m., or in the Verkhovna Rada during voting in the second reading. Amendments that are necessary for liquidation of excessive powers and departments of the SBU and organization of decent competitive procedure regarding selection of the head, have already been submitted by Members of Parliament.

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