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Government submits draft law on restructuring economic crimes investigative body

by Elsa Court January 29, 2024 7:02 PM 2 min read
An investigator from the Economic Security Bureau on Jan. 4, 2024. (Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine / X)
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The government has submitted a draft law on restructuring the Economic Security Bureau, which is one of the conditions of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) financing to Ukraine, Taras Melnychuk, the government's representative in parliament said on Jan. 29.

The IMF said that the Bureau, which investigates economic crimes, should develop transparent criteria for selecting its staff and management, and create better delineation with the investigative powers of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).

The law on the Bureau's restructuring should therefore "clarify its mandate and scope of investigative powers by focusing on major economic crimes and strengthening its analytical capacity" in order to avoid "reverting to weak pre-war investigative practices," the IMF said in December 2023.

The draft law submitted by the government stipulates that prospective employees should pass a series of procedures, including a polygraph test, before being hired.

The draft law also determines that an external audit must be carried out to assess the effectiveness of the Bureau's decision-making and clarifies the reasons why the director of the Bureau can be dismissed.  

Employees who were already appointed before the law comes into effect will be subject to mandatory certification one year after the end of martial law, the draft law says.

The draft law was criticized by the Anti-Corruption Action Center for lacking "proper mechanisms for re-certification and dismissal of unscrupulous Bureau employees."

Lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak also criticized the draft law, arguing that it does not ensure the Bureau will only be relaunched a year after the end of martial law and "cements the system and people from the President's Office" who currently work at the Bureau.

The selection of the head of the bureau is also "prescribed in such a way that it will be easy to postpone or manipulate" the selection, said Zelezniak, who is an MP from the liberal, pro-European Holos (Voice) party.

According to Zelezniak, "the draft law directly violates the obligations to the IMF, the EU and the G7," so if accepted by parliament in this form, the law will "immediately lead to the suspension of funding."

"We will prepare an alternative version that will make it possible to really reboot the Bureau," Zelezniak said.

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