Register of corporate raiders in Ukraine

Well, it has been quite a while since I wrote about the phenomenon of “corporate raiders” in Ukraine.  Not that it has ever gone away, it is a consistent cancerous, criminal, disgraceful, sometimes violent, occasionally murderous activity, engaged in by a small number of very wealthy and very connected people in this part of the world.

Looking back at recent history (since independence) these activities cross all political party lines and allegiances, both sides of the law (by way of organsied groups) and employ the organs of State to achieve successful corporate raids.

We are not talking about hostile takeovers via the stock markets, but corrupt judges, “security companies” ejecting workers and barricading premises, fraudulent documents, “pressure” being applied to owners to sell what they do not want to sell etc.

Those who survive a “corporate raid” and retain their assets normally do so simply by being more connected than the raider and thus able to call off the dogs from strong and robust messages from above, or are richer and able to buy justice. - Rather grim but the reality.

Very little has ever been done about this outrageous activity.

A cautious welcome must therefore be given to Vice-Premier Klyuyev’s announcement that a single State register of companies involved in this practice will be made and also the announcement that 49 judges in 2011 were sacked for being party to corporate raids.  (Dubious legal documents and decisions do not come cheap in Ukraine!).

Why cautious?  Well it depends upon how any such register will be used, if it is used at all.

If that register is circulated to all Ukrainian judges and they are obliged to inform Klyuyev’s office of any applications by companies on that register, allowing the State to keep a watchful eye on the judge and the proceedings that is one thing.  If that register is subsequently used for the forceful closure of those companies on the register by the State, then there is a real prospect of the register itself becoming part of a tool for corporate raiding, such are the nefarious dealings of Ukraine’s biggest and most exclusive business club otherwise known as the RADA.

Like so many things in Ukraine, corporate raiding is a phenomenon that must be addressed and any effort to address it should be welcomed.  The problem is those responsible for addressing such issues, regardless of party, are often responsible or have previously used the very same acts to get where they are.

It is incredibly difficult to trust poachers turned gamekeepers when they sit daily in the biggest poachers club of Ukraine.  After all, nobody pays $5 million for their RADA seat in parliament without expecting a return on their money.

A caveat to that, in 2007 the price of a RADA seat was $5 million for either BYuT, PoR or OU-PSD parties.  Whether that price is the same today I do not know.

Anyway, there is no alternative but to support the principle behind the idea of Mr  Klyuyev as something needs to be done.  The question is what will be done with the list once it is drawn up and who will be responsible for it?

As always in Ukraine, any answers raise multiple questions.