President and Government have to immediately stop sabotaging NAPC’s independence and effectiveness of the e-declarations system: declaring success in the anticorruption field to the international donors while blocking anticorruption bodies and instruments is in fact fraud. Oleksandra Drik, Head of the Board of the NGO “Civic Lustration Committee” and Member of the Public Council of the NAPC has said during the briefing on 28th September. Expert stressed: problems paralyzing NAPC need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Drik reminded that on the 22 of May in Riga Ukraine and EU have signed the Memorandum of Understanding between EU as Lender and Ukraine as Borrower on the Macro-financial Assistance to Ukraine. According to this Memorandum EU loans Ukraine up to 1,8 billion euros with the conditions that are based on the economic stabilization and reform program. One of the key requirements for receiving financial support – conditions to be fulfilled in the anti-corruption field, which include the obligation to create and ensure independence and functionality of new anti-corruption institutions, including National Agency on Prevention of Corruption as well as to launch and ensure efficient operation of the e-declaration system, owned by NAPC.
“When receiving the second tranche half a year ago Cabinet of Ministers and President of Ukraine reported on NAPC’s creation as new anticorruption body and claimed e-declarations system to be one of their biggest achievements. But, stayed silent on being responsible for doing everything possible to keep NAPC dependent, unable to fulfill its duties and putting e-declarations system into the hands of secret service, thus paralyzing ability to achieve much awated by Ukrainians results ” – stated Drik.
To confirm the above she gave seven examples of the independence of the NACP and efficiency of the e-declaration system being sabotaged on the highest level:
First of all, current NAPC management was put in place with not only scandals, but even lawsuits, by a Competition Commission where majority was held by the government bodies.No independence or efficient performance of NACP under such circumstances could be achieved. Competition to appoint NAPC management was held by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Secondly, when came the start of the declaration verification, suddenly NAPC’s management was found paralyzed. This happened, among other things, because of more than a year long inability of the selection commission to appoint a fifth member of NAPC, which came to votes of the leadership being divided 2 to 2 with no decisions being made. The work of the selection commission was supervised by the Secretariat ot the Cabinet of Ministers.
Thirdly, e-declaration system currently in in fact controlled not by the NAPC, but by the special service called the State Service of Special Communication and Information protection (SSSCIP). In order to give the system under control of SSSCIP even a hack into the system was falsified – all to prove that the system was ill protected and thus should be improved by SSSCIP Now, having full control of the system, SSSCIP can uncontrollably interfere with the system, change it, delete declarations or even in fact turn it off should they are told to do so. The SSSCIP is headed by the Security Service General.
Fourthly, only six month after the President has publicly announced that the system was «radically redesigned» by the structures subordinated to SSSCIP, they claimed that the existing system could not be developed with an automated verification and that it is so bad that a new one should be created. The cost of such new system was even estimated, another $12 million and 4 years of work. In order to check if this is true and figure out how the system is functioning, has there been any damage done and what steps need to be taken further, we advocated for the independent expertise of the e-declaration system which NAPC has voted for in late June 2017. Later on 19th of July Prime-Minister has signed Protocol assignment where he assigned the NAPC, SSSCIP and its subordinated structure («USS») to carry out such expertise with the involvement of independent experts as part of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between EU and Ukraine. However, two months had passed and expert analysis hasn’t been organized because SSSCIP is refusing to provide access to the system. In other words, officials of the SSSCIP and USS are ignoring direct order of the Prime-Minister, and thus are sabotaging Ukraine’s obligation to fulfill the conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding between EU and Ukraine on the Macro-financial Assistance to Ukraine. However instead of enforcing the implementation of this assignment government is initiating some other interdepartmental commotion, that is to conduct system evaluation without necessary experts or public involvement – only by the means of SSSCIP, unsanctioned interference into system of which needs to be investigated. Drik reminded, that SSSCIP is an executive body, provisions on work of which are approved by Cabinet of Ministers, while the Head is appointed and dismissed by the government with Prime-minister’ submission.
Fifthly, it's precisely the working group under the Cabinet of Ministers that has developed current regulations for declaration verification, which instead of holding the corrupt officials accountable legalizes the questionable assets. For example, while verifying Presidents declaration NAPC hasn’t verified information regarding his and his family’s income during his time as a public servant before the Presidents election. Moreover, Presidents undeclared villa in Spain, discovered by investigative journalists, wasn’t even mentioned. On other occasion around $1,5 million in cash declared by the Prime-minister also were not of interest to NAPC, and even when NAPC did manage to find 80 000 UAH undeclared, they’ve changed their own clarifications to dismiss this violation. Drik reminded that Cabinet of Ministers mandated the creation of the working group, and development was handled by the Ministry of Justice.
Sixthly, access to all necessary state registries is still unattainable. And one of the government bodies denying the access is the Ministry of Justice. Drik reminded that Ministry of Justice is the central executive body with its activities guided and coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Seventhly, playing on the peoples frustration with the NAPC’s poor results, Cabinet of Ministers and personally Prime-minister demanded the resignation of the NAPC management and submitted a draft bill on that to the Parliament. But, instead of finally giving NAPC independence, the bill suggests to make NAPC fully dependent from the Government. Notable, experts of the Council of Europe have come to similar conclusions in their expert opinion provided on the request of the Head of the Parliaments Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction.
Oleksandra Drik stated that that without a doubt NAPC is not an independent body and the effectiveness of the e-declarations system is deliberately being blocked. President and Government are reporting on fulfillment of the obligations but in fact, their actual actions are putting the fight against corruption on hold and no actual results in this field can be presented. Drik has called this a fraud. This is impossible not to be seen by the EU officials receiving reports from the President and the Government on Ukraine fulfilling its commitments in the part of obtaining macro-financial assistance from EU.
Now to get the third tranche in November Ukraine has to fulfill the unchangeable conditions for receiving EU money. However time to meet the conditions for obtaining 600 million euros from Brussels is running out. This means that Ukraine is either to be left without money and with corruption, supported by those blocking anticorruption reform, or official Kyiv immediately stops sabotaging independence of the NAPC and ensures effectiveness of both the institution and the e-declarations system.
Oleksandra Drik also pointed key steps for that:
Parliament must vote on the draft law N6387, that creates conditions for the election of the independent NAPC management.
Government must follow through with its own mandate and carry out independent expertise of the e-declarations system that would allow to launch the automated verification of e-declarations.
NAPC and the Ministry of Justice must change and approve the regulations for the full declarations verification, so that the process can finally be ran properly.
State Fiscal Service, Ministry of Justice and other government bodies must provide NAPC with access to all the registries.
E-declarations system must be taken from the hands of the special services.