The British Embassy has issued a statement on the criminal case against the suspended Chief of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service, Roman Nasirov. According to the statement, Ukraine's Solomiansky Court in Kyiv didn't take into account the evidence the UK provided for the case. UK authorities have decided to review the case to determine if Nasirov should be tried in the UK as a British citizen.
“We are deeply concerned about the recent decision in Kyiv’s Solomiansky Court, where evidence provided by the UK in relation to the case against Roman Nasirov was ruled inadmissible and disregarded,” the statement read. “The UK authorities will now review the facts and consider if criminal offences have been committed by a British citizen which may be tried in the UK.”
Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) carried out Nasirov’s arrest in March 2017, over the alleged embezzlement of approximately 75 million USD.
According to RFE/RL, Nasirov was considered a flight risk before his arrest because he possesses Hungarian and British passports as well as Ukrainian citizenship. After his arrest pending trial in March, RFE/RL reported that Nasirov was made to surrender his foreign passports.
This high-profile arrest was a remarkable victory for anti-corruption forces in Ukraine, given Nasirov’s position in the State Fiscal Service and close connections to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
“This is an extraordinary event for Ukraine,” Daria Kaleniuk, Executive Director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Centre told Hromadske after Nasirov’s arrest. “This is the first ‘big fish’.”
NABU is also responsible for other investigations into high-level corruption in Ukraine, including the detention of Ukrainian MP Mykola Martynenko. In April 2017, Martynenko was detained for embezzling more than 17 million USD. NABU also accused Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko of involvement in an organized crime ring and passed his documents onto INTERPOL after he fled the country.
However, the statement from the British Embassy also pointed to the fact that Ukraine has a long way to go to eliminate corruption and reform its judicial reputation in the eyes of the international community.
“This case underscores the urgent need for progress towards a reformed, independent and transparent judicial system and the swift introduction of specialized Anti-Corruption Courts with strictly vetted judges capable of properly trying high profile corruption cases,” it said.
During his recent visit to Ukraine, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn also called for the establishment of special Anti-Corruption Courts in Ukraine and expressed the European Commission's support for Ukraine's reform processes.
The British Embassy also expressed their support for further anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine. In this spirit, they will be hosting the Ukraine Reform Conference in London on July 6:
“The Ukraine Reform Conference will offer a further opportunity for the Government of Ukraine to demonstrate commitment to real progress in reforming the judicial system and further tackling corruption," the statement said.
/Written by Eilish Hart