More than 100 Members of Parliament have signed an appeal to Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova following a complaint by 25,000 employees of one of Ukraine's largest agricultural producers, the UkrLandFarming group of companies (UkrLandFarming Agro Holding). Further collection of signatures under the relevant petition is under way in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament. The MPs say that the farmers have been facing unprecedented pressure from the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) over the past five years, due to a personal conflict between NABU Director Artem Sytnyk and the holding's shareholder.
Lawmakers call on Venediktova to comply with the court ruling to transfer cases against their shareholder to impartial law enforcement agencies: the court found that NABU Director Sytnik has a conflict of interest, while NABU's five-year pressure on the holding leads to curtailing 30,000 jobs and losses to the national budget.
MPs last evening held a briefing in the Verkhovna Rada. In their appeal to the Prosecutor General, they expressed concerns about the critical situation related to the criminal prosecution of the head and owner of UkrLandFarming, Oleg Bakhmatyuk. "This persecution raises suspicions about the biased attitude of NABU Director Sytnyk towards the company and its shareholder," the lawmakers said in a statement.
Parliamentarians say UkrLandFarming a year ago had about 30,000 employees. As of 2021, some 13,000 of them lost their jobs since 37 companies that are part of the agricultural holding had been shut down. "Over the past decade, the agricultural holding has invested over US$3 billion in Ukraine's economy, including by attracting foreign investors and loans from international financial institutions. In the last three years alone, the holding's companies have paid about UAH 7.7 billion [US$276 million] in taxes and created 1% of Ukraine's GDP ... UkrLandFarming, whose enterprises are located in 22 Ukrainian regions, plays an important role in social life of cities and villages. The agricultural holding provided social assistance to 706 settlements of Ukraine, worked with 298,000 owners of land plots," the statement says.
"We are seriously concerned about NABU's five-year persecution of the enterprise without a single violation by the company and its founder being proven in court," the lawmakers wrote. "All this time the company and the country's budget have been suffering financial and reputational losses," the appeal reads. The years-long criminal prosecution and the shutdown of such world-acclaimed companies as UkrLandFarming are harming the national interests of our state."
MPs call on the Prosecutor General to take compliance with the law in said cases and the execution of the Kyiv Pechersky District Court's ruling of January 21, 2021, in case No. 757/1872/21-k under personal control. "We are discussing the creation of an interim inquiry commission on the issue. Our goal is to show businesses that the parliament cares about the rule of law and the rights of every Ukrainian. We call on the Prosecutor General to take personal control over the pretrial investigation, verify the legality of its initiation and consideration," MP Pavlo Pavlish told the Rada briefing. A member of Committee on Agricultural and Land Policy, Andriy Bogdanets, said that "the largest company is suffering from injustice,[…] while the country falls short of budget revenues. It is unacceptable for a European state to persecute private companies."
The said ruling of Kyiv's Pechersky District Court indicates the need to consider the motion for the resolution of dispute on investigative jurisdiction on criminal proceedings over the conflict of interests of NABU Director Sytnyk in the case against UkrLandFarming's shareholder Bakhmatyuk.