“The process of managing arrested assets is not transparent. There are no statistics of what is happening with these assets”, says Daria Kaleniuk, Executive Director at Anti-corruption Action Centre
“The key reason why Ukraine is losing these assets is because owners of these assets get them back.”
“Latvia confiscated dozens of millions of dollars in Arbuzov’s assets (Ukraine’s former Deputy Prime Minister). So, Latvia confiscated this money and put it in their budget and not into Ukraine’s budget.”
It's nearly impossible to know how much was stolen from Ukraine by the inner circle of disgraced former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A rough estimate places the number at USD 30 billion, according to Alan Riley at the Atlantic Council. Again that doesn't include all forms of state fraud.
Recovering and managing some of these stolen assets is a difficult task. Over the past few years, Ukraine's approach on this matter has been deemed, at times, unsatisfactory and ineffective. So, how much progress has been done by the government to manage frozen and arrested assets of corrupt officials?
After massive pressure from civil society, a new entity is in the process of being formed. In August Yehor Soboliev, the head of the Parliamentary committee on fighting corruption said a bill was successfully passed on creating such an organization.
“Right now when they arrest the property of a corrupt individual it basically ends up in the hands of the investigator and a judge. In most cases, it either disappears or it ends up in the hands of the original owner or of their affiliate. Now, we’ve just passed a bill which will create a government entity which will be responsible for recovering and keeping all of the arrested assets,” Soboliev explained.
But what has happened to the famous opulent palace inhibited by Ukraine’s former disgraced President Victor Yanukovych?
It’s currently being managed by a civil society organization, the head and self-declared supervisor of the ‘Mezhyhirya’ residence is Denys Tarahtkotelyk. He says nearly USD 60,000 is needed for its upkeep every month.
“At this stage, for the third year in a row, thanks to the self-organized civil society, this place is being preserved, without any agency, without the state interfering. It’s just that when people want to do something good they organize themselves and they simply do it. But if people want to steal, no matter what you do, even if you create agencies. They will steal.”
While Daria Kaleniuk, the Executive Director at Ukraine’s Anti-corruption Action Centre says progress is slow to manage some of the frozen and arrested assets of Ukraine’s corrupt officials.
“The general prosecutor’s office spent two years investigating Victor Yanukovych and his associates. And they simply didn’t do anything. And sometimes they did even more to destroy the cases”, Mrs.Kaleniuk also added that “a lot of time has been lost for gathering evidence from the start. And now when society is expecting the results, the general prosecutor’s office simply says ‘we don’t have enough evidence’”.