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HOT ANTICORRUPTION NEWS / Issue #162
December 7, 2020
  
Today's issue:
 
- Parliament reinstates weak provisions on criminal liability for lying in asset declarations;
- PG Iryna Venediktova protects Oleg Tatarov from prosecution;
- High Council of Justice illegally appoints tainted judges;
- Rules on SAPO head's term in office are renewed;
- Invitation to online discussion on corruption, money laundering, and propaganda;

- recommended reading
Parliament reinstates weak provisions on criminal liability for lying in asset declarations

On December 4, Ukrainian Parliament has adopted  law No.4460-d aimed to restore criminal liability for false statements in asset declarations. Leading Ukrainian CSOs called on the government for compromising the system of asset disclosure and significantly weakens criminal liability comparing to the legal framework established in 2014-2016.

The adopted provisions fail to impose deteriorative and dissuasive effect for non-submission asset declarations or provide false information. They will encourage impunity in top-level corruption cases and decrease the public trust and reliability of asset declaration system.
The adopted provisions significantly increase thresholds for criminal liability for false statement in asset declaration (from  $17,000 to $35,000) and do not foresee imprisonment as a sanction for grave violations. Instead of imprisonment parliament introduced the softer sanction of “restriction of liberty”, which has limited enforcement on practice and is about to be changed for probation procedures under the upcoming criminal justice reform foreseen for the next months.  
PG Iryna Venediktova protects Oleg Tatarov from prosecution
On December 2, NABU made a statement that PG Venediktova interferes in a key investigations like the cases of Ukrbud, Rotterdam+, and VAB bank. On December 1, Venediktova changed the group of prosecutors in Ukrbud case and in that way blocked the notice of suspicion to Oleg Tatarov, deputy head of Office of President. Allegedly Tatarov worked as lawyer and facilitated bribes on behalf of ex-MP Mykytas. Recently, before his involvement has been revealed to the public, Tatarov has made a speculative statement that he doesn't support NABU as it is "foreign institution".
High Council of Justice illegally appoints tainted judges
During a few meetings in November and December, the High Council of Justice (HCJ) decided to initiate an appointment of more than 30 judges which did not pass the qualification evaluation. The HCJ members voted in support of the relevant motions to the President. considered by the court. 
According to the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law On Judiciary and the Status of Judges only a judge who successfully passed the qualification evaluation procedure can be appointed. If there is a negative opinion of the Public Integrity Council (PIC) a judge may be appointed only if at least 11 members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) vote in his support. The PIC made opinions in regard to all of the judges supported by the HCJ, however the HQCJ did not conduct votings required by the law. 10 of those 30 judges were nominated as delegates to the Congress of Judgess which will be held in February 2021 and will appoint one Constitutional Court judge and four new HCJ members.

Among those judges illegally supported by the HCJ is Victor Kutsuik. In 2014 he took arbitrary decisions against Maidan protesters and was later accused for that. Unlike athor appointed judges, he did not even enter the qualification evaluation procedure.
Rules on SAPO head's term in office are renewed

On December 3, the Parliament adopted law No. 4227 that amended the collision that accidentally occurred when prosecution reform had been adopted last year. At that time, the provisions on the term of service of SAPO head had been terminated.  The law renewed the provisions on 5-year term in office of SAPO head. Currently, specialized Selection Commission conducts a selection of a new SAPO head.

Invitation to online discussion on corruption, money laundering, and propaganda

We are pleased to invite you to an online panel discussion "Joining efforts against democracy-killers: corruption, money laundering, propaganda", which will take place on December 9, at 16.00 (Kyiv time). More information and registration form are available here.

Recommended Reading 
Copyright © *2020* Anti-corruption Action Centre*, All rights reserved.

Should you have any questions or comments please contact Tetiana Shevchuk at tshevchuk@antac.org.ua

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