How Ukraine law enforcement authorities turn a blind eye on corruption in defense sector for “cookies” and “cars”

How law enforcement authorities turn a blind eye on corruption in defense sector. How criminal proceedings against them are being ceased. How much does condoning attitude of tax authorities and SBU cost?




How did the Prosecutors’ Office on three occasions bury the investigation on defence scams of the lads? And how did NABU help them? Read on in the investigation by BIHUS.info.


After the first and second parts of the “Army! Friends! Wonga!” investigation had been published we received futile attempts of “Ukroboronprom” to refute at least something and altogether expected threat of Ihor Hladkovskyi to condemn us. Furthermore, and in parallel with that an unexpected reaction of law enforcement agencies followed as well. Apparently, everyone knew all that, everyone had everything, but did not take any action till the moment when information on the defence industry schemes of the son of First Deputy Secretary of NSDC Oleh Hladkovskyi spilled into public view.

Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko has confirmed that the correspondence published by the programme is real.

However, he has assured that the law enforcement officers themselves were standing at “the home straight” and getting ready to serve a writ of suspicion. After the first issue of the programme had been aired the group’s junior partner Andrii Rohoza was, indeed, served a suspicion writ on tax evasion and forced to pay UAH 26,6 million to the budget.

However, the scope of the responsibility of the Prosecutor’s Office is limited to tax avoidance, the Prosecutor General pointed out. Corruption at the UOP and NSDC, bribes, overpricing, and most importantly Hladkovskyi – these are questions for the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Head of NABU Artem Sytnyk contradicted Lutsenko – NABU knew nothing about the schemes in which Hladkovskyi was involed, and now, owing to journalists, it seems to be starting from scratch.

NABU’s press office hastened to assure that “PGOU never handed over to NABU” the correspondence published in the programmes’ issues. However, at the Bureau they could not pretend that NABU did not know anything about the existence of the correspondence. When Sytnyk boasted of the searches at Zhukov’s and Gladkovsky’s he was asked why only now? After all, already two years ago NABU had a part of the materials at its disposal. Sytnyk assured: yes, a part was received, but NOT about Hladkovskyi.

Both Lutsenko and Sytnyk have lied

In these two weeks, Prosecutor General and Head of NABU have made loud statements trying to demonstrate their agencies bustling with activity and at the same times to “drown the rival”. However, the materials of the court cases and correspondence indicate that all that activity should have taken place already two year ago. It did not because all law enforcement agencies were actively helping the scam schemes all this time.

The home curves

If one reads the court register, then it will become apparent that during the years of Hladkovskyi-Zhukov-Rohoza’s activity every single authority attempted to investigate it. The State Fiscal Service, National Police, SBU, Prosecutor’s Office and NABU – they all launched investigations … but either buried or put the brakes on them.

If, after the court register, one carefully reads the correspondence of the participants in the scheme, something else will become obvious, namely that these investigations “turned sour” not for free. Whilst the court register was replete with criminal proceedings, the correspondence between Rohoza and Zhukov were replete with dialogues on how, when, how much and what for exactly they brought bribes to law enforcement agencies.
SFS: Help a dummy firm make a quick buck
SFS, that is, the State Fiscal Service, was first to start unwinding the chain from its lowest link. Fiscal officers burst the conversion centres through which the lads cashed the money of the defence industry plants. Then “Optymumspetsdetal” and “Renal” – the central firms of Hladkovskyi-Zhukov-Rohozha’s defence scams – automatically fell under suspicion. In accordance with the logic and the law, they were supposed to “land in trouble” for tax evasion.

“They used dummy enterprises to cash in and divided the cash between themselves”, Lutsenko pointed out. And he kept convincing that the fiscal officers had checked 10 “envelopes” and that another 30 are awaiting their turn.
After this statement the work in the SFS definitely accelerated. Only one week after the publication the Prosecutor General would disclose the results of the tax audit: 26.6 million of underpaid taxes, Rogoza would be served with a suspicion and would pay the specified amount to the budget.

But why has Lutsenko ascertained that only now? And why does it take the Fiscal Service one year to check 10 “dummy firms” and suddenly it takes it few days to check as many as 30? That is because prior to the scandal the lads had been “making agreements” with the Fiscal Service for years.
In the court register there are at least four criminal proceedings of the SFS in which “Optyma” and “Renal” appeared with their dummy suppliers.

SBU: the Service of Memory Loss of Ukraine

As it follows from the correspondence between Rohoza, Moskalenko and Zhukov, “cookies” to the SBU were taken on a permanent basis. After all, the main source of the group’s merchandise was smuggling and the free passage of smuggled merchandise was not free of charge. For example, at the beginning of 2017 Zhukov reminded Rohoza that a regular “payment” should be brought to SBU: “Do not forget about SBU, we have not given them anything since the New Year.”

Apart from money being taken to SBU, in exchange for his services the SBU official Moskalenko had long been begging the lads for one of Zhukov’s Mercedes cars. And judging by the subsequent correspondence he received it. Not Zhukov’s Mercedes, yet, but one of Rohoza’s BMWs.

However, it was not with all the authorities that Moskalenko was able to sort out matters. There was also the Military Prosecutor’s Office. With it, as it follows from the correspondence, Rohoza and Zhukov bothered themselves.

PGU: General Procrastinator of Ukraine

“At the time when the journalistic investigation went on air, the case kept going on and it was only a matter of days. In fact, the journalistic investigation emerged the very moment we were at the home straight”, Yurii Lutsenko has been convincing for two weeks in numerous public speeches. Unfortunately, that “rainbow from the home straight” lives only in the imagination of the Prosecutor General.

The first time the Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Kyiv garrison confronted “Optymumspetsdetal” – the key firm of the lads’ scams – was at the end of 2015. The second attempt the prosecutors made was in winter 2017. But there was another, the third attempt. In the spring of 2017, the MPO came with a search to the central office of “Ukroboronprom”.

The case was brought back from oblivion by the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office. Its investigators advanced far ahead of the previous two times.

First, they interrogated the straw owner of “Optyma”. He admitted that the company had no warehouses, motor transport and labour resources, and that the company was registered with the purpose of seizing public money allocated to the defence sector.

Secondly, it became established that “Optyma” and “Renal” traded not only with Kyiv Armored Plant, but with other companies of the Concern as well.

Thirdly, the Prosecutor’s Office got interested in how it happened that “Optyma” managed to pass the audit of the Concerns’ Security Department and got qualified? After all, without warehouses, transport and employees the company could not be put on the list of UOP’s suppliers at all.

The investigators could finally see that “Optyma” is a dummy and that the scam is of large scale and involves officials of the Concern. And they were one foot away from the real organizers of the deal. But then something went wrong again. Moreover, the Military Prosecutor’s Office even tried to clear out signs of the fact that there was at all some sort of investigation.

However … the case of the lads has created a hundred times greater disappointment than the Prosecutor’s Office.

NABU: What for Artem is lying

We have repeatedly said that the biggest crime in the scheme is not taxes, but corruption: overpayments, bribes and kickbacks. The corrupt component of this story should long have been investigated by the newly created NABU. Should have been.

If one reads the materials of the lawsuits, then the official investigation history on “Optyma” looks like this. In the spring of 2016 the NABU detectives started to investigate the procurements made by the Kharkiv Armoured Plant in 2015. The attention of the detectives was caught by the plant’s contract with “Optyma” for 1g42 sights, the so-called “heshky”, of 12 pcs in total and the cost of about UAH 13 million. The analysis of the supply chain led, as it was well expected, to some mock offices, thus the detectives initially questioned that these sights were at all supplied to the plant.

Obviously, at some stage the detectives understood the “subtleties” of smuggling accounts, found out that the delivery was made and decided that there was nothing more to investigate in this story. However, at the end of the summer 2018 a new agreement appeared in the register. It turned out that although the delivery of the sights took place, the lads, in fact, had not procured the “heshky” – the plant through “Optyma” had sold the Defence Ministry’s sights, which were stored at the plant’s warehouses, to itself: “The above-mentioned deliveries did not actually take place, spare parts for armoured vehicles were owned by the Ministry of Defence, stored at the state enterprise “KhBTZ” and illegally removed from the storage by officials of the state enterprise “KhBTZ”, and the above-mentioned agreement was signed with the purpose of concealing the illegal seizure of the Defence Ministry’s property by imitating procurement”. Despite such a rough turn, since that time the case dies away again.

Only a week and a half after the first series of the BIHUS.info’s investigation on Hladkovskyi-Zhukov-Rohoza grouping – NABU finally searched the places of all three.

That is the official story. It was generally clear, but too strange to be believed, as it left open three questions. The first is what the Bureau has been doing all three years, because they began to investigate “Optyma” already in 2016? The second is why now the searches are carried out only a week and a half after our investigation was published when all the persons under the investigation are unlikely to have anything to be searched? And the third is what actually Sytnyk received from the Prosecutor’s Office in 2017 and why he is not at all in a hurry to take the rest today?

In parallel and unofficially a totally different story unfolded, which we found out about from the correspondence between Zhukov and Rohoza. It gives clear answers to all three questions, and they are disappointing: Sytnyk lied.
At the end of December 2016, the lads found out that NABU had issued the Concern, at the latter’s request, with a list of companies that were targets in the investigation of the same Kharkiv case and which the Bureau considered to have signs of dummy companies. There were 8 companies on the list and among them “Optyma”. The list, when in Zhukov’s hands, “blew his mind” as because of that paper the Concern stopped payments.

Hence Zhukov throws a tantrum to Rohoza: “I am going to tear f** everyone to pieces. Tomorrow, motherf**, in morning H.Uhlava must write a letter that “Optymumspetsdetal” was mistakenly put on that list. They all f** phoned me and said they will f** pay nothing and will not sign if tomorrow there is no letter.”

A month later, when everyone is finally back from the New Year’s holidays, Rohoza will write to Zhukov: everything is fine, the Bureau has deleted their company from the suspects. “Optyma” has disappeared from the list, as expected by Rohoza. And the word “dummies” changes to “suppliers who show signs of illegal activity”. Moreover, when the lads wanted a personalized certificate that they were clean, NABU issued it as well. Interestingly, last week at a briefing, Sytnyk assured that the Bureau does not issue companies with certificates regarding whether a company is a dummy or not. However, below is a letter of such content.

How did the group of Hladkovskyi-Zhukov-Rohoza secure such a condoning attitude of NABU? The contacts at NABU were secured for the lads by Rohoza’s old friend – “special agent” Yevgen Shevchenko, who participated undercover in many NABU’s operations until he blew his cover in 2018. Today Zhenia calls himself a “friend” of NABU. However, in this story Shevchenko is a friend not only of NABU, but also of Hladkovskyi-Zhukov’s group. And the main thing is that he made the Bureau and the lads befriend each other.

Unfortunately, the correspondence between the participants of the fraud contains clear indications that the criminal group possibly paid to NABU for its clerical services. Zhenia himself denies taking money from the lads to hand it in to NABU. However, in the correspondence between Zhukov and Rohoza we come across the following moaning of Rohoza: “… I have to borrow to plug holes everywhere, at NABU too, Zhenia keeps writing for the third day that he needs money …”.

Hence, the reasons as to why in two years NABU did not obtain on demand all the correspondence from the Prosecutor’s Office and did not tackle Hladkovskyi-Zhukov-Rogoza’s grouping are not many, but only two.

The first is the disastrous incompetence of detectives who did not analyse the materials obtained from the Prosecutor’s Office. It should be pointed out that the materials from the Military Prosecutor’s Office were personally received by Head of the Main Detective Unit Andrii Kaluzhynskyi.

The second reason is a conscious covering of the defence scam by the management of NABU precisely because among its participants there is the son of the President’s friend and business partner Oleh Hladkovskyi and Yevhen Shevchenko who is close to NABU.

Given the fact that the second week after the investigation was published Sytnyk admitted that he still did not demand the materials, out of the two reasons only one remains, the second.

It was for good reason that we made a block on the law enforcement agencies the final chord. Our investigation was not planned for “elections”, yet owing to them it gained resonance and publicity. The directors of the plants were dismissed, Hladkovskyi-father was fired, Lutsenko and Sytnyk made loud statements on TV.

However, we remember that for three years official investigations were conducted with zero result. The cases were ceased for “cookies” and “for a car”.

And now when everyone finally started to stir because of the elections, we would like to remind GPOU, NABU, SBU and other acronyms that they should do their jobs in the same way as we do ours – irrespectively of names, positions, political scenarios or the date of the elections in the calendar.

EMPR

Source and cover photo: BIHUS.info

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