Kiev, Ukraine. With the future of corruption and a free ride depending upon setting up courts to hear corruption cases, the Poroshenko administration prepares for a new life of trying to stay one step ahead of the NABU detectives as the IMF ordered crackdown starts.
The government launched a drive to fight corruption last year under which judges and other public sector workers are required to detail their wealth in an online database. About 30 judges, with annual salaries ranging from $10,000-$13,000, own Porsches, according to their declaration for 2015 and others have huge sums of cash just laying around the house.
“The weakest link in our fight against corruption is the Ukrainian court,” Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said at a press conference in April. Groysman was speaking shortly after Transparency International released figures showing that Ukraine ranked 131 out of 176 countries in the World Ranking of Corruption Perception.
One judge declared a 2015 salary of $10,354, a watch costing 68000 hryvnias, and cash in hryvnias, euros and dollars worth the equivalent of $383,000, according to the 2015 online declaration he filed.The Ukrainian judge acknowledged in an online declaration that he owns a Breguet watch worth nearly a third of his annual salary and keeps piles of cash at home.
Ukraine is trying to show its international supporters and lenders that it can tackle entrenched corruption, including in the judiciary. Ukraine’s next welfare payment of a $17.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund will depend on Kiev showing progress on reforms including anti-corruption measures.
The Ukrainian government, activists and anti-corruption officials have said the judiciary acts as a shield for corruption and distorts the business environment.
The central bank complains that the judicial system has hampered its efforts to shut down banks it believes are engaged in nefarious practices such as money-laundering. It says that courts have given rulings that allowed 12 banks to stay open when they should have been closed, according to several central bank statements.
The wealth declarations of some of Ukraine’s most famous politicians and public officials have been pored over by the media and anti-corruption activists. If the prosecutors are right, Ukraines judges have a totally destructive influence on Ukraine’s business climate.