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Multiple criminal investigations zero in on Poroshenko

By Padraig McGrath | August 23, 2019

As it currently stands, at least 13 different criminal investigations conducted by the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine (SAPO) and National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) are focused on recently defeated former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. The various indictments issued by these bodies allege that Poroshenko is guilty of treason (in an indictment relating to the Kerch Strait incident last November), and that he has played roles in embezzlement, illegal abuse of authority, interference in judicial proceedings, forgery of documents and of lawmakers’ signatures, tax-evasion, money-laundering, and other corruption-schemes, including playing a role in illegal acquisitions of state-owned companies.

As succinctly as possible, it is necessary to break these allegations down into digestible units.

Firstly, let’s deal with the treason-investigation. It is alleged that Poroshenko deliberately provoked the November 2018 Kerch Strait incident, when 3 Ukrainian naval vessels were captured by the Russian coastguard and their combined crews detained after attempting to gain unauthorized entry to the Sea of Azov. The wording of the indictment suggests that Poroshenko is guilty of treason on 3 distinct levels:

1. Knowing that the Ukrainian naval vessels would be captured and their crews arrested, Poroshenko sought to manipulate the incident to strengthen his own political position, perhaps as a pretext for an illegal power-grab (a postponement or suspension of the upcoming presidential election, which he knew that he was bound to lose). Martial law was declared in Ukraine following the incident.

2. Poroshenko therefore deliberately sacrificed 3 Ukrainian naval vessels and the freedom of 24 Ukrainian servicemen for his own personal political gain, most probably as a precursor to an attempted illegal usurpation of executive power.

3. In provoking the Kerch-Strait incident, Poroshenko was essentially acting in the strategic interests of another nation-state, insofar as the incident resulted in the instigation of the NATO “Sea Shield 2019” naval exercises and a more aggressive NATO posture in the Black Sea.

In addition, Poroshenko is named in criminal investigations relating to the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from various energy-companies in which the Ukrainian state has a controlling interest. The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine (SAPO) has revealed that it is conducting investigations relating to the embezzlement of the equivalent of $227 million from the Centerenergo company, the embezzlement of $83 million from the holdings of Nyzhnyodnistrovska Dam, the embezzlement of $48.4 million from Cherkassyoblenergy, and the embezzlement of $13 million from Zaporizhiaoblenergo. In most cases, it is alleged that Poroshenko used duress to guarantee the appointment of his associates to the Boards of Directors of these companies, thereby illegally abusing his authority, and that these appointees subsequently played key roles in the various embezzlement-schemes.

Another criminal investigation relates to the forgery of parliamentary documents and of lawmakers’ signatures to facilitate the formation of a coalition government during Poroshenko’s presidency. Relating to yet another investigation, the former head of the Kiev Court of Appeals, Anton Chernoshenko, has alleged that while Poroshenko was president, he coerced Chernoshenko into issuing legal judgments which were favourable to the president’s political and business-interests.

Then there is the scandal relating to corruption in Ukraine’s military procurement process, from which Poroshenko’s former business associates directly profited. NABU is investigating Bogdan Motors, a company formerly co-owned by Poroshenko. It is alleged that spare automotive parts smuggled from Russia were sold at radically inflated prices to UkrOboronProm, the Ukrainian state defense corporation. The son of Poroshenko’s former business-partner Oleh Hladkovsky is also named in the indictment relating to this investigation. An investigation is also being conducted into the award of a government contract to Bogdan Motors to supply military ambulances to the Ukrainian armed forces in 2016, despite the fact that Bogdan Motors had never previously produced ambulances or military vehicles of any description.

Some of the investigations pertain to the conduct of senior management of ICU, an investment-group which managed Poroshenko’s business-interests and investment-portfolio. Two weeks after Poroshenko assumed office as Ukrainian president in June 2014, ICU executive Valeria Gontareva was appointed governor of the Ukrainian National Bank, and ICU senior manager Dmytro Vovk was appointed chairman of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities.

Then we could also itemize the investigation of the sell-off of the Kiev-based Kuznya on Rybalsky shipyard, and Poroshenko’s role in the acquisition of the “Pryamyi” television channel, which it is alleged that he now secretly owns.

Poroshenko was summoned for questioning by the SBI on July 17th in relation to money-laundering and tax-evasion investigations, but failed to appear. On July 24th, Poroshenko visited SBI headquarters and made a request to Roman Truba, the head of the SBI, for a postponement of the interrogation. This request was denied. On July 25th, Poroshenko sent a written request for a postponement to the SBI. Somewhat bizarrely, Poroshenko had previously denied receiving summonses for interrogation from the SBI, while his lawyer had simultaneously been requesting postponements of these same interrogations.

My god, if he can’t even get his story straight with his own lawyer, then what comedy of errors can we expect in future?

In the most recent development, on August 21st a Kiev court ordered NABU to open another criminal investigation against Poroshenko and former Ukrainian foreign minister Pavel Klimkin on charges of abuse of authority.

I could go on and on, itemizing yet more investigations and more sordid details, encouraging you to gorge yourself on this delicious feast of corruption-porn, but maybe we’ve had enough fun for today.

Remember the days when people said they were tired of the economic parasitism of “the Yanukovych family?”

Remember when people said that they wanted the rule of law and an independent judiciary in Ukraine?

It’s so great to see that “European Values™” came to Ukraine.

Padraig McGrath is a political analyst with BRICS.

August 23, 2019 - Posted by | Corruption, Deception |

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