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Synevo medical laboratory chain says State Bureau of Investigation seized its main Ukrainian office

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 27, 2024 4:11 PM 3 min read
Employes of the Synevo chain of medical laboratories stand in one of the company's facilities. (Synevo/Facebook)
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The Synevo chain of medical laboratories reported on Feb. 27 that Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation seized the building of the company's main office and central laboratory in Kyiv, calling the seizure "groundless and illegal."

Synevo is part of the Sweden-based European medical holding Medicover, present in 11 countries, with Ukraine being one of its largest markets. Synevo has been operating in Ukraine since 2007, performing millions of blood tests for Ukrainians per year.

In its Facebook post, Synevo said that if the seizure continues, the company will soon be forced to cease operations in this building, leading to "a complete halt in operation" of the network in Ukraine.

The bureau seized the building as part of a criminal case over "illegal removal of real estate from state ownership in the period from 2016 to 2021," according to an earlier statement by Synevo obtained by Hromadske media outlet.

Synevo said the criminal case is not in any way connected to the Medicover holding or the seized building. Medicover, represented by the Cypriot company "Linkmix Holdings Limited", purchased the building in 2010, and it was already in private ownership at that moment, added the statement.

Synevo also said in the statement that their building was seized without an official notice and called on the bureau to resolve the issue "in the legal field as soon as possible," as it "can be considered pressure on the business, which is the largest European investment in the health care sector of Ukraine."

Following Synevo's statement, the bureau said that they have been conducting a pre-trial investigation since 2022 into possible illegal transfer of state property to third parties, apparently referring to the Synevo case but not naming the company.

According to the bureau, the building was seized in 2022, which was repeatedly appealed in court, but the decision to seize the building remained in place.

Case against investment banker points to increasing pressure by state on business in Ukraine
Ukrainian investment banker and head of Kyiv-based Concorde Capital, Ihor Mazepa, was detained on Jan. 18 concerning a 2014 case against the businessman in which he allegedly illegally acquired land for a cookie-cutter housing development back in 2013. Mazepa was detained by the State Bureau of Inv…

"We would like to emphasize that no investigative actions were taken in relation to the specified medical enterprise that would interfere with the implementation of its activities, and after the seizure of state property in 2022, no obstacles to the provision of medical services arose, and do not arise even today," the bureau added.

Around 300,000 people use Synevo services every month, including Ukrainian service personnel and war veterans who are served free of charge, according to the company.

If Synevo is forced to halt its operations, Ukraine "will lose hundreds of millions of hryvnias in taxes and fees," the company added. In 2023, Synevo reportedly paid more than 310 million hryvnias (around $8 million) to the state budget.

"More than 2,300 company employees will become unemployed, and the investment image of Ukraine will be irreparably damaged."

Ukrainian business community claimed an escalation of law enforcement pressure on businesses last month when influential investment banker Ihor Mazepa was detained for purportedly illegally seizing land in Kyiv Oblast in 2020-2021. Mazepa was released several days later after his bail was reduced.

His arrest sparked criticism from the Ukrainian business community that called the incident a continuation of systemic pressure from the state, including unannounced searches, asset seizure, and detentions. Ukrainian business leaders have held regular meetings with the presidential office to address pressure on businesses since Mazepa's arrest.

In late January, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of two platforms for improving state communication with Ukrainian businesses.

One of the platforms, "Made in Ukraine," was presented at a forum with the same name that took place in Kyiv on Feb. 26. Over 400 entrepreneurs, government officials, and foreign guests attended the event.  

Speaking at the forum, Zelensky called for a new "moral contract" with "clear moral rules" between the businesses and the state, saying that "anyone who follows such rules should receive full support from the state."

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