Foreign investor case gets underway
Complainee: The National Police of Ukraine, Main Investigation Department of the National Police Ukraine (MID NP)
Complaint in brief: Among entrepreneurs who turn to the Business Ombudsman for help, there is an opinion that the Business Ombudsman Council mainly helps businesses protect themselves against groundless interference in their business activities by law enforcement bodies. Meanwhile, recent statistics of complaints received by the Council shows that the businesses are increasingly more often approach the institution when they cannot get effective protection from law enforcers as the injured party in the framework of criminal proceedings investigation.
The latter scenario constituted merits of the complaint lodged with the Council by a foreign investor in June 2020 to challenge unlawfulalienation of its real estate worth over UAH 40 mn. Having learned about offence, the investor turned to the law enforcement bodies. However, the investor could not obtain a victim status and any information on the investigation progress from the investigator for a long time. The complaint also challenged law enforcers’ attempt to transfer arrested property at the disposal of the National Agency of Ukraine for finding, tracing and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes (Asset Recovery and Management Agency or ARMA).
Actions taken: Following complaint’s receipt , the Council’s team immediately discussed the case with the MD NP representatives at the Expert Group meeting set up under auspices of the Memorandum on Partnership and Cooperation between the National Police of Ukraine and the Business Ombudsman Council of September 7, 2016. At such meetings, the Council always emphasizes that in a state governed by the rule of law seeking to build public confidence in law enforcement bodies, the latter must demonstrate a certain level of openness meaning that victims can receive timely information on the course of investigation. As it turned out, since the disputed property several times changed its owner within a short period of time, - the investigation did not have reliable information about real owner’s identity, which prompted them to worke out several versions of the investigation. Exactly because the investigation was not sure who the legal property owner actually was, the investor was not recognized as a victim.
Result achieved: Thanks to the Council’s mediation, the investor received the victim status after all and his lawyers began interacting effectively with the investigator. Recently, the investigation was able to identify and detain persons involved in the investor’s property misappropriation. As it turned out, lawbreakers organized a criminal group, which also seized property of other entrepreneurs.
The Council welcomes successful results of investigation and would like to thank the leadership of the MID NP for protecting interests of a legitimate business in course of criminal proceedings. We hope that criminal proceedings materials will soon be sent to court and perpetrators will be brought to justice for the wrongdoing. The complaint investigation is ongoing.