Photo Credit and Description: © White House/U.S President Joe Biden in a Bilateral Meeting with President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky in 2021.

Where Are The Billions Going? Head Of Ukrainian Accounts Chamber Charged With Corruption After Deciding To Audit Defence Spending

On October 24, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) announced that the agency, together with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, has filed charges of corruption against Valerij Patskan, the head of the Ukrainian Accounts Chamber.

Patskan is accused of accepting illegal rent payments.

The allegations of corruption against Patskan come after he announced he intended to conduct audits on the defense and law enforcement sectors and on NABU itself.

Head of the Accounts Chamber of Ukraine, Valery Patskan.

On 16 November, Patskan resigned from his position as the head of the Accounts Chamber of Ukraine due to charges of corruption brought against him.

“I wrote a letter of resignation. Why? The Accounts Chamber has planned audits related to the defense, security, anti-corruption and law enforcement spheres. The war eats up billions and it is our task to check if officials help it in this. We planned and announced an audit by NABU. But in NABU decided not to wait for us to come to them, and came to visit them first. With the “guest” – they charged me as the initiator of the check, “he wrote on his Facebook page (banned in the Russian Federation, owned by the Meta corporation, which is recognized in RF extremist).

“Not doing your job is vile. Turning a blind eye to the senseless use of funds is criminal. And organizing political squabbles is low. I will not participate in this,” added Patskan.

With Patskan gone, the checks on the use of Western aid funds will also likely disappear.

Why?

The question is why NABU is preventing an investigation into the use of the western billions that are flowing into Ukraine. The EU alone has already transferred 22 billion to Kyiv in aid money, not counting arm deliveries.

The US Republicans have pledged to give more scrutiny to aid money that Washington is sending Ukraine once they take control of the House of Representatives in January.

The US established NABU, Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau after the 2014 Maidan coup. A leaked phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, suggests the US played a leading role in organizing the coup to overthrow the democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was known to be on cordial terms with Moscow.

Since NABU was established, the Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office has no longer been effectively responsible for investigating corruption in Ukraine. This power now ultimately rests in the hands of NABU, which has close ties with the US Embassy in Kyiv, and more precisely with the US Democrats.

With NABU, suspicion is enough to freeze the assets of the person concerned.

Artem Sytnik was selected by the U.S to head NABU. In a recorded conversation published years ago in Ukraine, Sytnik openly explained how the US pressured him to look for incriminating material against Trump’s environment in order to help Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election campaign.

Critics say NABU is used as a means of leverage by Washington and the US Democrats against those stand in the way of US business interests in Ukraine.

In March 2016, the Ukrainian Attorney General Viktor Shokin was fired for allegedly not taking action against corruption. The firing came as Shokin was overseeing on ongoing criminal investigation into one of Ukraine’s biggest private gas companies, Burisma. Donald Trump accused former Vice President Joe Biden of pressuring Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin. At the time that he was overseeing Ukraine Policy for the Obama Administration, Biden allegedly told Poroshenko he would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Shokin was not fired. Shokin says he was fired to prevent him from investigating Hunter Biden who served on Burisma’s board of directors on a monthly salary of $50,000, despite no experience in the energy sector.

The Bidens in Ukraine

In 2020, Ukrainian deputy Andriy Derkach made public alleged recordings of telephone conversations between the former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the then-US Vice President Joe Biden. Derkach described the recordings as “testifying to the facts of international corruption and state treason at the highest state level.”

“These conversations clearly show … Biden ruled Ukraine,” the Ukrainian deputy said.

During the conversation, Poroshenko tells Biden that he followed his orders:

“I followed your instructions … and resolved the issue of the Prosecutor General, received the statement from him,”

Biden answers, “very good”, and says he is ready to sign the new $1 billion loan to Ukraine.

“It’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage that Shokin did,” Biden says. “And I’m a man of my word. And now that the new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward to signing that new $1 billion loan guarantee.”

Yuriy Lutsenko, Shokin’s successor, then dropped the investigation into Burisma, stating he had found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Lutsenko said in an interview that the US embassy had given him a list of people he was not allowed to investigate under any circumstances.

Lutsenko was fired when President Zelensky came to power in 2019.
His successor, General Ruslan Ryaboshapka, fired the prosecutor who led the investigation into Burisma.

Ryaboshapka himself was eventually fired in early March 2020. Ukrainian President justified the sacking on grounds that Ryaboshapka’s work was not leading to “results”.

“My personal opinion is very simple: if there are no results – the person should not remain in their job,” Zelenskiy was quoted by Interfax Ukraine as saying before the vote.

Ryaboshapka has blamed his dismissal on “oligarchs and their minions”.

In February 2021, the new prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova, announced that investigations into Burisma had been closed.

Zelensky Signs Law Amendment to Limit Lifetime Financial Monitoring For Corruption To Just 3 years

As concerns mount about the lack of oversight over the billions in Western aid money being sent to Ukraine, developments in Kyiv are going in the opposite direction of the scrutiny demanded by the U.S Republicans.

Ukrainian law had previously required lifetime financial monitoring of “politically exposed persons.”

Last week, Ukrainian President Zelensky signed an amendment limiting it to just three years. Officially, the law is supposed to “protect Ukraine’s financial system from Russia and Belarus,”

“With this law, politicians destroyed the system of financial monitoring of their loved ones, which means they actually blocked negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU,” head of the Anti-Corruption Center, Vitaly Shabunin, said on Facebook. The amendment “practically kills the system of preventing money-laundering by Ukrainian politicians,” he added.

Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Zelensky celebrated the new amended law:

“No one will be able to forgive corruption in the future Ukraine,” he said, adding that all the corrupt officials had fled the country, and those remaining will not want to “interfere in business operations”.

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