Law enforcers return illegally seized property to GT Group

Tax issues: Criminal proceedings against business initiated by State Fiscal Service Kyiv

Subject of complaint: Large Taxpayers’ Office of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine (LTO SFS) 
Complaint in brief: On January 17, 2019, GT Group, a group of energy companies approached the Council. The LTO did not return the seized property to the Complainant, despite the respective court order. 
On November 13, 2018 SFS investigators conducted searches in company’s offices in Kyiv and Kharkiv. According to the Complainant, searches were performed based on a court order concerning legal entities, which had nothing to do with the GT Group. Nevertheless, investigative actions were large-scale – over 30 law enforcers simultaneously arrived at offices. During the search, law enforcers seized the equipment and documents that were not mentioned in the decision. 
Disagreeing with it, the company appealed to Shevchenkivskyi District Court requesting to recognize illegal actions of law enforcers and recover the property. On January 14, 2019, the court ruled in favor of the company and ordered the LTO to return the property. 
However, the Complainant was told by phone that investigator in charge was on vacation until mid-February and no one else could return the property. In addition, nobody in the registry knew who was handling the company appeal and when it would be considered. 
Having faced the state body inactivity, the company turned to the Council for help. 
Actions taken: The Council’s investigator propmptly engaged in the investigation. On the day the complaint was received, he contacted the LTO Investigative Department. The BOC investigator stressed it was necessary to implement the court order as soon as possible to unblock the Company’s activities.
Result achieved: With the Council’s facilitation, the seized computer equipment and property were returned to the company within two business days. The Complainant wrote in this respect “thanks to established communication with the SFS LTO Investigation Department, professional approach and prompt actions of the Business Ombudsman’s team our company operations had been renewed. We admire the level of efficiency, professionalism and the team commitment, support and promotion of transparency for doing business in Ukraine” 
The Council’s investigator also informed the SFS Investigative Department top management on circumstances of the case, thanking for the quick response to the Council’s requests. The case was closed successfully. 

Next case:: Repeated searches based on one court order are forbidden!