The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) have completed a pre-trial investigation into a corruption scheme used by Arkona Gas-Energy LLC to get the permit to develop the subsoil reserves of the Svistunkivsko-Chervonolutsky gas condensate field (located in Poltava region) at an artificially reduced cost. As a result, the State lost UAH 196.8 million, which the LLC had to pay to obtain a special permit. On Sept. 9, 2021, the case files were disclosed to six suspects:
- the ex-Deputy Director for Production, Economics and General Affairs of the Ukrainian State Geological Research Institute (UKRSGRI);
- the ex-Head of UKRSGRI unit for geological and economic assessment of oil and gas resource base;
- an expert of the State Commission of Ukraine on Mineral Resources and the Director of Project-Naftogaz LLC;
- the ex-Director of Arkona Gas-Energy LLC;
- two Project-Naftogaz LLC engineers.
The actions of suspects fall under Part 2 Article 28, Part 2 Article 364 (“Abuse of office”) and Part 1 Article 366 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The investigation has revealed that in 2016, Arkona Gas-Energy LLC repeatedly and unsuccessfully applied to the State Commission of Ukraine of Mineral Reserves to get a special permit to develop the subsoil reserves of the Svistunkivsko-Chervonolutsky gas condensate field beyond auction.
Only after the company got new owners the State Commission agreed to issue the long-awaited permit, while the Poltava Regional Council approved the issuance beyond auction. Further on, the scheme participants came up with a plan to reduce the permit issuance fee. They used non-existent indicators for preliminary gas and condensate production, capital investment, operating costs and depreciation deductions. As a result, the fee was reduced to UAH 3.8 million, while initially it made UAH 200.6 million.
In July 2020, the scheme participants were notified of suspicion. Other persons involved in the crime are being established.
NABU started the pre-trial investigation into the above facts based on a report filed by MP Vitalii Kuprii and a journalistic investigation.
According to Article 62 of the Constitution of Ukraine, a person is considered non-guilty in the commission of a crime and cannot be subject to criminal punishment until he or she is found guilty by court.