The day of big revelations in NABU and SAPO: who received suspicions and why

The day of big revelations in NABU and SAPO: who received suspicions and why

What happened?

On November 21, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) declared a day of big revelations. Then, they exposed a number of corruption crimes related to the rebuilding of Ukraine. 

The suspects included MPs from the Sluha Narodu (Servant of the People) party, Andrii Odarchenko, and the Za Maibutnie (For the Future) party, Serhii Labaziuk, as well as the owner of a private company. 

They attempted to bribe Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ministry of Communities and Territories Development, and Mustafa Nayyem, head of the State Agency for the Restoration and Development of Infrastructure. Kubrakov and Nayyem were cooperating with anti-corruption authorities.

In total, the anti-corruption authorities exposed five people. Their actions were classified under Part 4 of Article 369 of the Criminal Code — offering, promising or giving an unlawful benefit to an official.

Episode one

Andrii Odarchenko, an MP from the Sluha Narodu (Servant of the People) and a Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy member, offered Mustafa Nayem an illegal benefit in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, equivalent to $50,000. 

Odarchenko asked for assistance in obtaining funds from the fund for liquidation of the consequences of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation for the restoration of the infrastructure facility under his control.

Nayyem assisted the anti-corruption authorities and informed them of the bribery attempt. After Nayyem, as a corruption whistleblower, allocated money to the MP, he received the first tranche of the bribe, equivalent to $10,000.

This is the first cryptocurrency bribe ever documented by anti-corruption authorities.

Episode two

Anti-corruption authorities have exposed Serhii Labaziuk, a Za Maibutnie (For the Future) MP who owns construction and agricultural businesses, for trying to bribe Oleksandr Kubrakov and Mustafa Nayyem. 

In August this year, Labaziuk asked the minister to award his company UAH 1 billion worth of contracts for the reconstruction of infrastructure facilities. In return, he promised a "reward" of 3-5% of the cost of each contract. The MP also involved the company's director in the agreement.

After receiving UAH 50 million for a contract to rebuild a destroyed bridge in one of Ukraine's regions, Labaziuk transferred the promised $150,000 to Nayyem through a proxy, who had previously warned law enforcement about the bribery attempt. The money was handed over in a supermarket car park in a Chinese box. 

Episode three

The NABU and the SAPO jointly exposed the owner of a private company for offering Mustafa Nayyem an unlawful benefit in the form of real estate in new buildings with a total area of more than 5200 square metres and an estimated value of more than UAH 170 million. 

In return, the official had to maintain the agreements signed with the company for the construction of a residential complex on the land owned by the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development. He was also supposed to facilitate the obtaining of permits and necessary approvals. 

In order to conceal the crime, the property was to be registered in the name of a trustee. When the crime was uncovered, detectives and prosecutors documented the registration of 15 apartments in Kyiv in the name of a trustee.

In this case, too, the law enforcement authorities were informed in advance of the attempted bribery. 

In addition to the owner of the company, the head of the state enterprise was also informed of the suspicion.

What happened next?

The operation was led by NABU detectives and SAPO prosecutors. The pre-trial investigation is ongoing. Law enforcement officers are identifying other people who may be involved in the crime.

The suspects face imprisonment for a term of five to ten years with or without the forfeiture of property.

What do the Ministry and Mustafa Nayyem say?

"Zero tolerance to corruption is a key principle of the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development and the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection. Our cooperation with law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies has been and will continue to be systematic," the Ministry commented on the incidents.     

Mustafa Nayyem also commented on the NABU report on the attempted bribery.

"The only thing I can say is that we thank them (NABU and SAPO — ed.) for their cooperation. This is not only the State Service but also the Ministry of Infrastructure. We have worked together as a team. I hope this will lead to results and not happen again," he said during the national TV marathon.

A preventive measure for Odarchenko

On November 22, the High Anti-Corruption Court began a hearing on the measure of restraint for Andrii Odarchenko.

During the hearing, it became known that bribes were most likely paid for the allocation of funds from the Recovery Fund to the State Biotechnological University, where Odarchenko was rector. 

The Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office believes that the MP has connections with law enforcement agencies and that there is a risk of influencing witnesses. Therefore, the SAPO is requesting that MP Odarchenko be taken into custody with an alternative bail of UAH 15 million.

The hearing was also attended by those who were ready to bail the MP out. These are mainly employees of the university where Odarchenko was rector. 

So far, the court has not imposed any preventive measures on the MP. The decision is likely to be taken after the recordings of covert investigative actions are made. 

During the hearing, the SAPO prosecutor read several quotes from Odarchenko. In them, the MP says that he is interested in cryptocurrencies and has his own exchangers in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, etc. 

It also became known that he was in Zakarpattia at the beginning of the invasion and was "interested in checkpoints in the region", and in August 2023, during a conversation with Mustafa Nayyem, he said that he did not believe that "Kharkiv will survive" and wondered "whether we (Ukraine — ed.) need these Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea (Qirim)". 

The head of the Sluha Narodu (Servant of the People) party, Olena Shuliak, said that the disciplinary commission would consider expelling Odarchenko from the party. 

"This is very unpleasant, but we will see how events develop further. We have already set up a governing body in the party... A five-member disciplinary commission will make appropriate recommendations and conclusions," she told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.