Yet another large-scale corruption scandal has come out of Ukraine as the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) have announced significant action taken against the highest court in the land.
“NABU and SAP have exposed large-scale corruption in the Supreme Court, in particular a scheme to obtain undue advantages by the leadership and judges of the Supreme Court,” the anti-corruption bodies announced on their official social media channels Tuesday. It’s a huge embarrassment given this is the highest legal body in the land, and the nation’s top judge, responsible for interpreting and upholding the law.
The watchdog bodies stated they have “documented the head of the Supreme Court receiving a $2.7 million bribe.” An anti-corruption official revealed in a national press briefing that the head of the Supreme Court, Vsevolod Knyazev, has been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes. The $2.7 million was seized in a raid on the top judges home.
“At this time, the head of the Supreme Court has been detained and measures are being taken to check other individuals for involvement in criminal activity,” a statement said further.
Knyazev, who was the equivalent of the US Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, has was elected to the position in October 2021. He has since been removed by a special session of other judges with a ‘no confidence’ vote.
Further, reports in Ukrainian media suggest that additional judges might be raided and arrested amid the ongoing corruption probe. According to more details which have emerged in Ukrainian media sources, the case could be the tip of the iceberg:
NABU Director Semen Kryvonos revealed that his bureau has documented a series of contacts between the owner of Finances and Credit Group, Kostiantyn Zhevaho, and one of the owners of an attorney group used to conceal criminal activities. These contacts involved an agreement regarding unlawful benefits in favor of high-ranking court officials for “rendering the necessary decision” in favor of the entrepreneur.
Businessman Zhevaho denies his involvement in the multimillion-dollar bribe, as stated in a press release issued by his spokesperson to Forbes.
“This is the most high-profile case during the tenure of NABU and SAP and the biggest exposure of a top-ranking official in the judicial branch of power,” said Kryvonos.
He said the suspects in the case also attempted to influence the appointment of members of the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges (VKKS), the body responsible for career-related matters within the judicial branch of power.
The past months have seen Ukraine, which consistently ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world, take public steps to root out its notorious corruption problem.
This as tens of billions in US taxpayer aid continues to flow through Kiev’s coffers amid the Russian invasion – also as Blackrock, the world’s largest manager of assets, has reached a tentative agreement with President Zelensky to coordinate major reconstruction investment in the war-ravaged country.
The emerging supreme court of Ukraine scandal isn’t the first major corruption revelation since the war began, and its unlikely to be th