Photo from UNIAN

The European Union says Ukraine's recently-voted law on asset declarations has several deficiencies and does not produce the necessary deterrent and corruption prevention effect.

On December 8, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, held a conference call with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal. They discussed EU-Ukraine cooperation, the implementation of the Association Agreement and continuing reform efforts in Ukraine, as reported by the European Union External Action.

In particular, acknowledging Ukraine's progress on the reform path despite Russia's destabilising actions and conflict in the East, as well as the challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the High Representative/Vice-President and the Commissioner urged Ukraine to continue efforts related to strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

Read alsoUkraine adopts inland water transport bill in second readingThey underlined that robust judicial reform remains a vital part of these efforts.

Recalling the need to address issues raised by the recent decisions of the Constitutional Court (CCU), the High Representative underlined the importance of restoring criminal liability for false declarations.

"He noted that the recently-voted law on asset declarations, even if a step in the right direction in addressing the CCU decision of October 27, 2020, has several deficiencies and does not produce the necessary deterrent and corruption prevention effect," reads the report.

At the same time, it is noted the EU is ready to assist Ukraine in this process.

Constitutional Court row: Background

  • On October 27, the Constitutional Court made a decision on a motion filed by 47 Members of Parliament, having repealed Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code, which provided for criminal liability for inaccurate declaration by government officials of their income.
  • The Constitutional Court also recognized the provisions of laws on the audit of officials' e-declarations as unconstitutional and stripped the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) of powers to check declarations and identify conflicts of interest.
  • On December 4, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, passed the Law "On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine regarding the establishment of responsibility for declaring false information and failure to submit a declaration by a person authorized to perform the functions of the state or local government" (No. 4460-d).
  • The bill supplements the Criminal Code of Ukraine with Article 366-2 "Declaring inaccurate information." The article lays down liability for public servants for deliberately filing inaccurate information if the gap from the actual volume of assets ranges from 500 to 4,000 subsistence minimums for able-bodied persons. Fines shall be introduced for the relevant violations in the amount of 2,500 to 3,000 tax-free subsistence minimums (from UAH 42,500 to UAH 51,000 (US$1,500-1,800)), public works for a period of 150 to 240 hours, and a ban on certain public positions or engaging in certain activity for up to three years.
  • Deliberate filing inaccurate information if the gap from the actual volume of assets exceeds 4,000 subsistence minimums for able-bodied persons is punished with a fine from 3,000 to 5,000 tax-free subsistence minimums (from UAH 51,000 to UAH 85,000 (US$1,500-3,000)), public works for a period of 150 to 240 hours, or imprisonment for up to two years and a ban on certain public positions or engaging in certain activity for up to three years.
  • Also, the Criminal Code is supplemented by Article 366-3 punishing officials for the failure to file asset declarations. According to its provisions, deliberate failure by a person authorized to perform government functions to file the declaration of income is punishable with a fine from 2,500 to 3,000 tax-free subsistence minimums (from UAH 42,500 to UAH 51,000 (US$1,500-1,800)), public works for a period of 150 to 240 hours, and a ban on holding certain public positions or engaging in certain activity for up to three years.
  • In particular, the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine establishes that the High Anti-Corruption Court has jurisdiction over criminal proceedings on corruption-related criminal offenses laid down in the said two articles.
  • Pretrial investigation of these criminal offenses shall be carried out by detectives of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).
  • The law also introduces amendments to the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses, as well as Law on Prevention of Corruption.
  • The new legislation comes into force on the day following the date of its publication.