NABU – A something and nothing statement

It is incumbent upon NABU, like all other agencies in Ukraine, to be as transparent as is practicable.

In the case of high profile agencies like NABU it is also wise to keep the public informed as far as investigative integrity and operation circumstances allow.

With that there can be little argument.

It also should be recognised that no news is in fact news.

There are then statistics.

Statistics are fine for statisticians – but for the general public they are often uninspiring or even irritating if there is no specifics offered about what is behind those numbers – or in the case of NABU, the who, where and how much is behind the statistics offered in an attempt to momentarily focus public attention.

The NABU website recently published some statistics.

“As of June 30, 2013, more than 30 people, who are under investigation by NABU, and, according to the detectives involved in investigations, are hiding from the investigations abroad, and about half of them, according to the investigation, are in the territory of the Russian Federation. , probably in the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk region and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

Further, with regard to the international activities of the NABU, specifically related to the extradition of persons suspected of corruption crimes in Ukraine, out of 30 people who are hiding abroad, 21 have been declared internationally wanted.

In regard to 16 people, extradition requests were sent to other states to facilitate their detention, or to establish a place of stay.  It is not entirely clear whether those 16 are part of the 21 that are currently on the international wanted list.

Who these people are is not disclosed – some perhaps for operational/investigative reasons would not be disclosed at this moment in time, but certainly not all would fall into such a sensitive category.

The who and/or the where is absent even in the broadest of terms.

According to detectives, corrupt officials from Ukraine choose places for” registration “of illegally received funds in states with a simplified registration system, complicated information disclosure procedures and a high degree of confidentiality.  The damage to state interests with the participation of foreign counter-parties is calculated at UAH 1.84 billion, $ 22 , 07 million and EUR12.03 million.”  

A reader will bluntly ponder why anybody involved in industrial scale theft and money laundering would not try to seek out such havens?  There’s little point in stealing it if you can’t launder it and use it.

Related to the nefarious corruption schemes involving the obligatory and numerous shells companies, the NABU press office stated that “many corruption schemes are implemented with the participation of companies registered abroad. The geography of these business entities covers at least 23 countries on three continents.

Which 23 countries?  Whether professional or armchair AML enthusiasts, is there anything lost by NABU identifying those nations – or any patterns between them?  Any reader can rattle off the usual suspects, London, Vienna, Latvia, Cyprus, BVI, Seychelles, Spain etc, – but could they name the 23 linked to corrupt Ukrainian officials?

Further NABU states that “to obtain information on the ultimate beneficiaries of such structures and on the movement of funds withdrawn from Ukraine, NABU sent requests for international legal assistance to the competent authorities of other states. Since the beginning of the investigations, the National Bureau sent 371 requests to 61 countries for international legal assistance and 182 requests have already been fulfilled.”

Would it hurt to know which 61 nations?  Which countries have received the most requests?  Which have fulfilled most requests?  Which is the swiftest at actioning requests?  It is not only a matter of publicly naming and shaming the worst, but also applauding the best.  Is there truly a nation that would be irked by being publicly named by Ukraine as the most helpful in dealing with NABU’s AML/investigative requests?  Would it make a nation any less helpful by naming those where the most problems appear to arise?  Perhaps they are unhelpful/slow for good domestic legislative reason.

What exactly are these statistics meant to convey to the public other than the fact NABU deals with (and instigates) a lot of international bureaucracy that is otherwise almost meaningless (and is certainly fairly dull) to the public without knowing more about what is behind these statistics and ultimately just how successful all that bureaucracy actually is?

Perhaps it is just the blog that sees statistics and immediately becomes far more interested in what is behind the numbers than the numbers themselves – but probably not!