151 MPs have signed a petition to the Prosecutor General to register their protest against the persecution by NABU of the agricultural holding company Ukrlandfarming owned by the businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk. The petition refers to a conflict of interest the NABU director has in relation to those cases and mentions a court order to transfer them to unbiased investigative authorities, which the Office of the Prosecutor General has yet to comply with. Ukrainian News reports
This is according to a petition by members of Parliament to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. The petition comes in response to letters by Ukrlandfarming employees complaining about the five-year-long criminal investigation against the general manager and founder of the Ukrlandfarming group, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, by the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine. In their petition, the MPs conclude that the attacks against the company are inflicting painful losses on the economy, while NABU Director Artem Sytnyk has a conflict of interest in relation to those cases as found by court. This persecution raises suspicions of bias on the part of NABU Director Artem Sytnyk towards the company and its owner, reads the petition.
The persecution of the company by the NABU director has already destroyed 13 thousand jobs and 37 enterprises while costing the economy some UAH 1.5 billion in reduced tax collections caused by contracting output in the past year alone.
Over the past 10 years, the company has invested over USD 3 billion in Ukraine’s economy including by raising capital from foreign equity and debt investors provided to the company by international financial institutions. Over the past three years, companies of the group have contributed some UAH 7.7 billion in taxes while generating 1% of the national GDP… The Ukrlandfarming group with operations in 22 provinces of Ukraine plays an important role in supporting urban and rural communities. The group has supported financially 706 local communities all over Ukraine while leasing farmland from some 298 thousand private landowners, reads the petition.
Since Ukrlandfarming and the government are suffering financial and reputational losses, MPs ask the Prosecutor General to personally supervise the observance of the law in those cases urging her to comply with the ruling of the Pechersk District Court of 21 January 2021 ordering that the VAB Bank case be transferred from NABU to impartial investigative authorities.
At a news briefing held earlier at the Parliament, Pavel Pavlysh MP stated the following: We are discussing the possibility of setting up an ad-hoc investigative commission to inquire into the matter. We are determined to demonstrate to the business community that Parliament is committed to upholding the rule of law and the rights of every Ukrainian. We urge the prosecutor general to personally supervise this pretrial investigation and verify its lawfulness.
To create an ad-hoc investigative commission, 150 votes of MPs would suffice.
Just as a reminder, the case pursued by NABU against the former acting governor of the NBU Pysaruk and the businessman Bakhmatyuk concerns allegations of embezzlement of public refinancing extended by the NBU to VAB Bank. Those allegations have been refuted by official forensic expert reports and the findings of audits conducted by the Deposit Guarantee Fund concluding that the proceeds of refinancing have been used according to their designated purpose, that is to settle with the bank’s depositors.