Ukraine abolishes corruption oversight rule

 Activists have blasted Zelensky for “harmful” move they say shatters Kiev’s EU dreams

FILE PHOTO ©  AP / Efrem Lukatsky

President Vladimir Zelensky has harmed Ukraine’s hopes of joining the EU by signing an amendment that reduced financial oversight of politicians, anti-corruption activists in Kiev said on Monday.

The measure “practically kills” efforts to combat money-laundering, the head of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC) claimed. The body is funded by the US government and EU member states and elites in Kiev have long been hostile to its work, despite their dependence on Western funding and support.

Ukraine had previously mandated lifetime financial monitoring of “politically exposed persons,” including government officials and lawmakers – until Zelensky signed an amendment last week limiting it to just three years. Officially, the law is supposed to “protect Ukraine’s financial system from Russia and Belarus,” but the AntAC says it will harm the country’s interests instead.

“With this law, politicians destroyed the system of financial monitoring of their loved ones, which means they actually blocked negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU,” AntAC head Vitaly Shabunin said on social media. The amended law “practically kills the system of preventing money-laundering by Ukrainian politicians,” he added.

AntAC’s executive director Daria Kaleniuk pointed out that the law also breaks Kiev’s promise to the European Union, one of the seven commitments made by Zelensky to Brussels in June.  

“In order for us to be able to convince our European partners that we are serious about joining the EU and are implementing all the necessary reforms for this, we need to correct this,” she told Hromadske. 

READ MORE: Zelensky claims he has eradicated corruption in Ukraine

After signing the law on Thursday, Zelensky told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum – via video link – that he had essentially ended corruption in Ukraine.

“No one will be able to forgive corruption in the future Ukraine,” he said, adding that all the corrupt officials had fled the country while those that remain will not be tempted to “interfere in business operations” because all government services had gone electronic.

The old law provided for lifelong financial monitoring of the president, prime minister, ministers and their deputies, members of parliament, management of the national bank, senior security officials, key judges and prosecutors, as well as military commanders. 

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