Expanding room for common sense and good governance while aiming punishment at perpetrators

Today, with the assistance of the Business Ombudsman Council of Ukraine, Business Ombudsman Roman Waschuk and Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin met with leading business associations and members of the Entrepreneurship Council under the President of Ukraine. The keynote of the meeting was the assessment of implementation of the President’s Decree on urgent business problems in interaction with law enforcement bodies.

“Three months ago, a message was communicated to the entire law enforcement system that pressure on honest business was unacceptable. Today we have tangible practical results. We can also confidently state that the state and business are ready to interact and jointly work out solutions to problems,” said Andrii Yermak, the Head of the President’s Office, in a video message, opening the event.

“Regular meetings of the Prosecutor General’s Office with business community representatives using the Business Ombudsman Council’s platform become a driver for solving long-overdue problems,” emphasized the Business Ombudsman.

Andrii Kostin signed the updated version of the Standards for Prosecutors in the field of investment protection, which became mandatory for prosecutors. The improved Standards take into account the Business Ombudsman Council’s recommendations in terms of making the Standards binding when prosecutors perform procedural guidance of pre-trial investigations, as well as application of “safeguards” against unreasonable searches.

At the event, the Prosecutor General presented audit findings of criminal proceedings initiated against business: almost a fifth of them were closed (1,218 out of 6,471 discovered during the audit).

“We are grateful to the business community for active interaction and dialogue and are making every effort to develop our cooperation. According to the American Chamber of Commerce, 82% of complaints from association members were resolved positively. At the beginning of February, this indicator was at the level of 52%. Restoring justice, protecting interests of everyone working honestly is the best prosecutors’ performance indicator and one of our main points of reference,” Andrii Kostin said.

We share a common view with the Prosecutor General that existing laws need to be implemented sensibly and with right signals, along the lines of legitimate business facilitation. It is this vision that we promote in our Declaration of Fair and Reasonable Administration, which should become a guiding light for transparent relations between the state and entrepreneurs. The key should be the “Consult First” approach, i.e. abandoning punitive practices for entrepreneurs through prevention and correction of possible mistakes,” noted Roman Waschuk.

As a result of the meeting, Business Ombudsman Roman Waschuk and Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin outlined priority steps to reduce pressure on business and protect honest entrepreneurs:

introducing “Consult First” principle in the practice of state bodies

– a joint appeal to state bodies to elect honest heads of the State Tax Service and the State Customs Service;

– Bureau of Economic Security renovation, transparent management team selection process, selecting new detectives, creating regional divisions of the Bureau.

The Business Ombudsman Council supports the open format of interaction between the Prosecutor General’s Office and business community and, seeking to resolve problematic issues of entrepreneurs in the law enforcement field, is ready to provide its platform for regular meetings and mediation in the future.