The company gets temporarily seized property returned
Complainee: The State Fiscal Service of Ukraine (SFS), Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO)
Complaint in brief: The Business Ombudsman Council received a complaint from a company being one of Ukraine’s construction market leaders. The company complained that law enforcement officers failed to return the property seized from it in the result of the search. Particularly, within the criminal proceedings in the tax evasion case, the SFS investigators seized hard drives and a large number of company documents, but later the investigating judge refused to arrest such property. Therefore, the complainant's lawyer filed the relevant motions to the investigator in charge of the criminal proceedings and demanded the return of the company's temporarily seized property. However, the timely replies had not been received. The company then asked the Council to facilitate a dialogue with law enforcement agencies aimed at quick return of the temporarily seized property to its legitimate owner.
Actions taken: The team of investigators examined the case files and found the complaint to be substantiated. The Council requested the SFS, jointly with the PGO, to ensure a timely, comprehensive and impartial consideration of the complainant's motions and to immediately return the temporarily seized property kept by the pre-trial investigation authority with no due legal basis. The Council’s investigator also discussed the complaint’s subject matter with persons conducting the pre-trial investigation and procedural management of the respective criminal proceedings, and also submitted it for consideration by an expert group set up at the PGO under the Memorandum of Partnership and Cooperation between the Council and the PGO. By referring to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Council emphasized that law enforcement officers were obliged to consider the complainant’s motions within no more than three days upon their receipt and satisfy them provided the appropriate grounds are in place; if the supervisory authority decides to refuse the motions, it must provide the complainant with the reasoned responses in this regard. At the same time, refusal to satisfy the request for seizure of temporarily seized property is the due basis for its return to the owner.
Result achieved: With the Council’s assistance, the complainant was able to return the temporarily seized property. The law enforcers implemented the Council’s recommendations. The company thanked the Council for facilitation: “We are grateful for your work helping to restore violated rights of business entities and generally contributing to improving conditions for doing business in Ukraine”. The case was successfully closed.