Acting on a request by the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC), the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office has opened a criminal case against Oleksandr Yefremov, chairman of the Party of Regions parliamentary faction. Yefremov is accused of abusing his office by placing unlawful pressure on state officials for material gain.
According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, Yefremov allegedly pressured employees of the state enterprise “Lugankvugillya” into purchasing equipment from two companies connected to his family: LLC “DS-8,” whose principal owner if Yefremov’s son, and LLC “Indeksprom,” which is partly owned by his wife. Under Article 364, Part 2 of the Criminal Code, he faces up to six years in prison if found guilty of the charges.
AntAC helped open the case by gathering information about the alleged corruption scheme and submitting its findings to prosecutors.
“During the Maidan protests, we searched for information about corrupt actions by state officials,” said AntAC chairman Vitaly Shabunin. “We uncovered some very interesting information – which Nashi Groshi has written about – that tenders worth hundreds of millions of gryvnia were won by firms connected to the Yefremov family. Realizing that the affair might be covered up, our organization filed a complaint with the General Prosecutor’s Office and provided all the evidence that we had found.”
As a member of Parliament, Yefremov currently enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution. Thus, in order for the case to move forward, the General Prosecutor will have to appeal to the Verkhovna Rada to revoke Yefremov’s immunity. According to Ukrainian law, the Verkhovna Rada’s Rules Committee has 20 days to consider the request. If the committee rules in favor, then the measure is put to a general vote. At least 226 parliamentary deputies must approve the measure for it to take effect. If the vote fails, then Parliament may not reconsider the measure unless additional incriminating evidence is discovered. Coincidentally, Yefremov is a member of the Rules Committee.
AntAC is confident that justice will prevail. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but the evidence is sufficient for the General Prosecutor to demand that the Verkhovna Rada strip Yefremov of his immunity and bring him to justice.”
The Anti-Corruption Action Centre is a Kyiv-based civil society organization dedicated to fighting grand corruption in Ukraine. As of July 2014, the organization had returned more than 1.1 billion UAH (nearly 96.1 million USD) to the state budget by intervening in corrupt tenders.