Detectives with the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) handed a suspicion notice to former Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan. He is being accused of inflicting UAH 30.5 million (US$1.1 million) losses to the national budget.
Ex-official's actions have been qualified under Part 2 of Article 211 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (making of regulations or directives by an official, which modify budget revenues and expenses contrary to the procedures prescribed by law, where large amounts of budget funds are involved), NABU's press service said on its website on June 19.
"The investigation found that the former minister in December 2017 issued an order to reduce all port fees (except lighthouse dues) by 20%. At the same time, one of these fees – the administrative one – is a part of the national budget's revenue. Therefore, only the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, not the minister, could alter it," the report said.
Moreover, the Finance Ministry opposed the reduction of all port charges, among other things, emphasizing that it is the cut of the administrative fee that will lead to a shortfall in the budget's revenue. The ministry had repeatedly informed the infrastructure ministry about this.
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As a result, the decision of the ex-official led to non-receipt of UAH 30.4 million (US$1.1 million) by the national budget in 2018, that is UAH 173.1 million (US$6.5 million) out of expected UAH 203.5 million (US$7.6 million). These data are confirmed by the State Audit Service and judicial expertise.
Later, the Infrastructure Ministry recognized that the order to reduce the fees failed to reach its stated goal.
Earlier today, Omelyan went on Facebook to comment on the charges pressed against him. He said he was "surprised" to face such charges over the decision he said was collegial, adopted by the entire Cabinet.
Omelyan believes his actions were in line with the "deregulation" spree that included easing the pressure on businesses.
In his post, he addressed President Zelensky, "thanking" him for the criminal proceeding launched, adding that it's "a shame" that the NABU "is turning into SBI 2.0", hinting at the recent charges pressed against ex-president Petro Poroshenko.
As UNIAN reported earlier, the State Bureau of Investigation had conducted a search in Omelyan's house.