by Vitalii Rybak
Serhiy Klyuyev, a Ukrainian MP from the close entourage of Viktor Yanukovych (also known as “family”), fled the country in 2014 after the Euromaidan protests. He did not leave empty-handed. According to the data of the Anti-corruption Action Centre he, together with his brother Andriy, stole over 15 billion hryvnias (5 billion euros) by taking loans from Ukrainian banks which were never returned and receiving financial support from the state. Based on the request by Ukraine’s, the EU Council has imposed sanctions against Klyuyev brothers, as well as 17 other officials from Yanukovych’s “family” on 5 March 2014.
Since then, the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine has been obliged to provide the EU court with sufficient evidence regarding this case. However, the judges questioned“the adequacy of the proof” provided by the Ukrainian side. Therefore, on 21 February 2018, the EU General Court cancelled sanctions imposed by the EU against Serhiy Klyuyev. Daria Kaleniuk, the head of Anti-Corruption Action Centre, is sure that the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office did nothing to save the case. “They have not even launched a special investigation regarding Serhiy Klyuyev,” she writes.
Additionally, this case sets a dangerous precedent. For the first time, ongoing sanctions against one of former officials from Yanukovych’s “family” have been dropped. All the others, who’s guilt Ukraine has not proven yet, could count on the very same. Therefore, the question arises: is Ukraine doing enough to recover the assets stolen by Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies?
The first major problem is that it is almost impossible to calculate the exact amount of money stolen from Ukraine during the four years of Yanukovych’s regime. The government has not figured this out in the four years from his escape. According to former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Oleh Mahnitskyi, back in 2014 Yanukovych embezzled in excess of 100 billion dollars over the years of his presidency. However, in 2017 the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine (GPU) has given a “smaller” figure—40 billion dollars (which, nonetheless, is equal to the annual state budget of Ukraine).
Unfortunately, civil society has little access to the data available to investigators. “When we ask the prosecutors how much money has been frozen, they either say that all the accounts of the Yanukovych “family” have been frozen, or say nothing due to the secrecy of the investigation,” Tetiana Shevchuk, a lawyer at the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, says in a commentary for UkraineWorld.