Ukrainian activists have uncovered what they describe as a major shortcoming in an anti-corruption court law adopted last week which threatens to torpedo the war-scarred country’s chances of decisively cracking graft and unfreezing a critical $17.5bn IMF assistance package.
The development casts dark clouds over hopes by senior Ukrainian officials that the legislation signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko on Monday was IMF compliant, and that $2bn in fresh funding could be secured by autumn following a summer agreement on raising natural gas tariffs to market levels.
Kiev-based anti-corruption watchdog Antac said amendments snuck into the law in violation of voting procedures envision that appeals of graft cases pursued by a recently formed anti-corruption bureau would be appealed by ordinary appellate judges, “circumventing” the newly formed anti-corruption court.
In a statement, Vitaliy Shabunin, head of Antac’s board, wrote:
This provision would mean the amnesty for all top corrupt officials, cases against whom were transferred to the courts. Such a step is a blatant change of previous agreements and the text itself right before the voting.
Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, head of Transparency International Ukraine, said the “mistake should be urgently corrected” with amendments to the law.
There was no immediate comment from the IMF, though it is understood that the issue was a serious IMF programme compliance hurdle which sources close to Ukraine’s government, contacted by the Financial Times, expressed deep concern about.