Date of publication: 28 November 2014
Mikhail Ilyashev, Attorney at Law, Managing Partner
Source: Ukrainska Pravda
Ukraine has been using the mechanism of bringing civil servants to responsibility for corruption for a long time. However, laws get amended, but corruption is left intact.
Establishment of one additional agency and adoption of additional laws will not solve the existing problem. The State Security Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office have been exercising the necessary powers for a long time.
The final version of anti-corruption laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has not been published yet. It is possible that the final version will considerably differ from the published draft law.
By adopting such laws officials are trying to plant a thought in the society that the state is not combating corruption because of imperfect legal environment. But this is not the case.
Apart from establishment of the new agency, the law introduces amendments to the Criminal Code. In particular, it introduces criminal responsibility for acquisition by an official of the property, which cost considerably exceeds his income, or for transfer of such property to close family members.
The law offers to punish the civil servants only for transfer of their property to close family members. Does it mean that registration of the property in exchange for certain “services” of a civil servant directly to his close family members constitutes no criminal offence?
Has this mistake been made deliberately? Ukrainian society has got accustomed that the state of Ukraine is governed by underpaid civil servants who “accidentally” have wealthy relatives.
Ukraine and the civilized world interpret the notion of “corruption” differently. Corruption crimes stipulated by Ukrainian legislation are treated as bribery or theft in the Western countries.
The notion, which civilized countries call corruption, is not considered to be corruption in Ukraine. Corruption in the Western countries may mean the situation when a son of a civil servant is a student at the university sponsored by the company which won the tender held by the state authority headed by the father of such student.
Each year we receive a questionnaire from a big American corporation asking us what it can do in Ukraine to successfully interact with local state officials. The questionnaire contains no options whether it is possible to give money to a state official or purchase an apartment to his wife. From the point of view of an average Ukrainian citizen they ask about harmless things. For example, they ask whether it is allowed to pay for participation of a state official at a conference, i.e. buy a ticket instead of giving money directly, provide academic literature, etc.
We have never received such questions from Ukrainian companies.