Resistance to anti-corruption bodies is increasing, said Artem Sytnyk

Anti-corruption bodies have increased the pace of their work, which naturally provoked resistance from the corrupt system. The events of recent days are a clear example of this. This is the conclusion of the participants of the presentation of the NGO "Transparency International Ukraine" study on the capacity, management and interaction of the anti-corruption infrastructure held on October 29, 2020.

“This is not only about destroying NABU, but the entire anti-corruption infrastructure: the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), which began to draw up protocols, NABU and SAPO, which investigate and send cases to court, and the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC), which passes the sentences. A devastating blow to the entire structure begins. The resistance will be strong. In the future, I believe, the main indicator of the Ukraine choice will be the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine regarding the HACC. If the decision is negative, it means that we are on the path of stopping the anti-corruption reform,” the NABU Director Artem Sytnyk said.

The Acting Head of SAPO Maksym Hryshchuk commented the recent decision of the CCU on the abolition of criminal liability for submitting false date to e-declaration: “There are many criminal proceedings as of facts of submitting false data to e-declarations by officials in work of NABU and SAPO, but all of them should be terminated. This is a significant blow to the mechanism for detecting assets of illicit enrichment, since this article has always gone alongside e-declaration”.

The NACP Head Oleksandr Novikov noted that even if the new edition of the Law on Declaration is adopted, there is a risk that it will be declared as unconstitutional in the future.

In the study presented by TI Ukraine, the authors comprehensively assessed the institutional and operational capacity of the main anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine: the NACP, NABU, SAPO, the HACC, and ARMA. They analysed their activities in six areas — resources, independence, transparency, accountability, and integrity. In addition, a number of recommendations have been developed to help strengthen their ability. In particular, the following main recommendations for NABU are highlighted:

  • to exclude legal and political pressure on the body, as well as attempts to put pressure on NABU by illegally withdrawing complaints against the actions of the institution under the jurisdiction of the HACC and the obligation to transfer criminal proceedings under the jurisdiction of NABU to another body of pre-trial investigation;
  • to prepare an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework for conducting an external audit of the NABU activities and conduct such an audit;
  • to settle the issues of appointment and dismissal of the NABU Director, as well as other powers unusual for the President of Ukraine on the work of the institution, in order to comply with the principle of checks and balances between various branches of government.

After reviewing the recommendations, the NABU Director Artem Sytnyk noted “Thanks to the authors of the study. I appreciate the professional approach and the fact that they mentioned our strengths and weaknesses, provided a number of recommendations regarding various areas of the Bureau's activities. Taking into account the main recommendations, especially regarding ensuring the independence of NABU, I want to say that it is impossible to minimize pressure on the body. Not only in Ukraine, but also all over the world, institutions that carry out top-corruption investigation are always under pressure. Therefore, it is important to ensure such guarantees of the independence of the institution, which will allow, on the one hand, to control the legality of the its activities, and on the other hand, will allow the body to effectively resist this pressure”.

As part of the study, 28 interviews were conducted with employees of the anti-corruption institutions and 22 — with representatives of the expert community.

Among participants of the discussion there were the Executive Director of Transparency International Ukraine Andriy Borovyk, the Head of the Legal Department of TI Ukraine Kateryna Ryzhenko, the NABU Director Artem Sytnyk, the Acting Head of SAPO Maksym Hryshchuk, the NACP Head Oleksandr Novikov, the ARMA Deputy Head Volodymyr Pavlenko, and the Head of the HACC staff Bohdan Kryklyvenko. 

Research on anti-corruption agencies’ capacity and interaction