Article by: Dmytro Korol
For the first time, a special body to combat corruption in the highest layers of government has been created in Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada passed the according bill on October 14.
However, as a result of the vote, the bill on the National Anti-Corruption Bureau was subject to global changes, and now this organizations has good chances of becoming yet another police corruption structure.
The most cardinal changes in the voting process were proposed by BYT member Serhiy Pashynsky and UDAR member Rostyslav Pavlenko.
As INSIDER reported, during the creation of the bill on the Anti-Corruption Bureau, a behind-the-scenes war broke out between UDAR member Viktor Chumak and Pashynsky. The latter wanted the new body to be headed by Tenyana Chornovol, who is currently running for Parliament with the People’s Front, and Olena Tyshchenko, former lawyer to Kazakh oligarch Muftar Abliazov.
On the bureau
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau is a state law enforcement body which is supposed to counter corrupt crimes committed by high officials. Its leaders receive special ranking. For example, the Mayor General of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Major, Colonel, Captain, Senior Lieutenant etc.
The National Bureau will consist of central and territorial headquarters, of which there will be seven in Ukraine: in Lviv, Khmelnysky, Mykolayiv, Melitopol, Poltava and Kyiv. The last one was supposed to have been created in Donetsk, however that is now doubtful.
The number of personnel will constitute 700 people. Among them, over 200 will be leaders. De facto, one manager per 2,5 workers.
The workers of the Bureau, according to the war on police, will have the right to special equipment, firearms and use of physical force. Personal data of the Bureau workers and that of their families, for example, their location of residence, cannot be made public by any means including the media. The same goes for people aiding the Bureau who are not part of the personnel (agents).
The Bureau’s influence spreads to Parliament members, Cabinet of Ministers members, state officials of the first and second categories, head of the National Bank and their deputies, judges, Office of the Prosecutor General investigators and the Prosecutor.
Meanwhile the coordination of the Bureau’s work is conducted by the Prosecutor General as well. It is unclear how in practice an official who has control over the Bureau will be subject to its scrutiny.
To control the Bureau workers, internal departments will be created to detect violations on part of the employees, conduct investigations, verify the candidates to posts and monitor their lifestyles, whether they accord with the declared revenues of the organization’s workers. The leaders and workers of these departments will be appointed and fired by the Bureau’s director.
High salaries are abolished
In the process of voting for the bill, the member of the Parliament included amendments by Serhiy Pashynsky and Rostyslav Pavlenko that establish the salaries of the workers of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau according to legislation. So the salary levels of the corruption fighters will be the same as for all state officials.
Initially it was proposed that even regular Bureau workers would receive high salaries.
For example, the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau was to receive 50 minimal salaries, or almost 61 thousand UAH per month. The first deputy to the director was to receive almost 49 thousand UAH per month.
The leaders of the central headquarters and the department for internal control would have gotten 36,5 thousand UAH. The directors of territorial headquarters and heads of the internal control departments – over 30 thousand UAH. The heads of structure departments – 24 thousand UAH. A regular Bureau worker would have earned 18 thousand UAH per month.
The legislators wanted to establish high salaries with the goal to motivate Anti-Corruption Bureau workers not to accept bribes. However, MP’s Pashynsky and Pavlenko have their own opinion on this, just like their colleagues who supported the salary amendments.
The MP’s will elect the controller
The Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau will be appointed based on a competition. They have to be a citizen of Ukraine with a diploma in law and no less than 10 years’ work experience. Besides, they are required to have 5 years of experience in management.
The competition committee will select three candidates from all the competitors and offer them to the President, who will determine who will lead the newly-created body, having first accorded the candidacy with the Rada.
Only after this does the President sign the appropriate order. If the MP’s do not approve of the candidacy proposed by the Head of State, they propose the next one from the chosen three. If the MP’s do not select any of the three candidates, the committee declares a new competition.
The President or the Verkhovna Rada, with the proposal from 150 MP’s, have the power to fire the Director of the Bureau. In order to fire them, it is enough for half of the parliament, 226 members, to support the decision.
“This way they decided to play it safe so that the head of the Bureau is not too disobedient,” comments one of the authors of the bill, head of Center for Anti-Corruption Vitaly Shabunin.
The newly-elected director will have broad authority.
In particular, they will appoint their deputies and heads of their headquarters, determine the number of managing and regular personnel of the Bureau.
They will also determine the means to encourage people who aid the body in preventing, detecting and countering corrupt crimea. They will solve the issues of disciplinary punishment for the workers. They will grant state official ranks to the workers and special ranking to the management, which presume salary increases.
Besides, the director will appoint the managers of internal departments which will overview Bureau worker activities, and will decide on where the Bureau funds go. They will establish qualification demands for the organization’s workers. In other words, they will determine their own criteria to hire them.
The first draft of the bill prescribed that every future worker of the Bureau and every one of the three candidates for the director’s post have to go through a polygraph test (lie detector). However, after voting for the amendment from UDAR member Nataliya Agafonova, this norm was removed.
Yet another amendment by Pashynsky and Pavlenko removed the norm that the people who have been in anti-corruption departments for the past five years in any law enforcement structures had no right to become part of the Bureau.
“If someone who wants to fill the Bureau with old personnel is appointed head of the Bureau, they have the right to do it. And removing the polygraph test makes this task easier,” Vitaly Shabunin comments.
Another important update was the amendment by BYT member Serhiy Vlasenko. At first it was prescribed that the workers of the Bureau had the right to certain kinds of investigations on the decision of the Bureau’s director and the investigating prosecutor’s approval. For the most part it is reaching necessary information from banks.
Now any investigative action can only be done after a court decision.
“This means that the Pechersk court which is now blocking almost all anti-corruption investigations, will be able to do the same to the Bureau. It is not critical but very problematic,” Shabunin says.
“It is impossible to demand the impossible in this Rada to later achieve what we want. Just like with this law. We were forced to agree to these amendments for the law to happen. As to the polygraph test, the Venetian Committee was against it. As to the 5-year-ban on participation on part of former law enforcement workers, on the one hand, we have a firm position on part of European structures against discrimination of people who want to compete. On the other, as harsh competition is presumed for all Anti-Corruption Bureau workers on all levels, bribe-takes, treasury-looters, those who like easy money or sadists will simply not pass this test,” noted Rostyslav Pavlenko in a comment to INSIDER.
“If we see that the law doesn’t work and there are drawbacks, we will amend it,” added the MP.