The order of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to eliminate the violation of article 26 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Prevention of Corruption” committed during the appointment of Naftogaz of Ukraine NJSC CEO is unlawful, while the Agency’s conclusion is a textbook example of “selective justice” and bias, Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko has stated.
“The limitations provided in the law can be applied exclusively to an official having relevant authority to decide or participate in making decisions regarding a relevant entity. I did not have such authority in respect of Naftogaz,” commented Vitrenko. “Moreover, the Energy Ministry was not the company’s governing body. It was the Cabinet. As an acting minister, I was not part of the Cabinet of Ministers. I did not therefore vote when the government made decisions. And I was neither the head nor a member of the Regulator.”
Furthermore, the NACP conclusion is in conflict with both the letter and the spirit of the law. The purpose of the limitations provided in the Law of Ukraine “On the Prevention of Corruption” is to prevent officials from giving preferences to entities regulated by private law in exchange for future employment or some other unlawful benefits from those entities. In the specific case of Yuriy Vitrenko, his appointment was approved by the Government of Ukraine, which is a collegial body.
“The decision on my appointment was made by the Cabinet, so it is absurd to say that I had been pursuing the interests of the entity of private law which later employed me as a “reward,” Vitrenko noted.
The actions of the NACP could be deemed a textbook example of “selective justice” contradicting both the law and common legal practices, as the Agency did not see any risks or violations when relevant ministerial employees were appointed to executive and supervisory boards of state-owned energy and infrastructure companies in 2017-2020.
One such example is the Agency’s passivity when Yevhen Kravtsov, the former First Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, was appointed Ukrzaliznytsia JSC CEO. It should be noted that this central executive body, unlike the Energy Ministry, was governing the company in question and had the relevant authority.
Compliance with law in the case of Vitrenko is also demonstrated by the legal expert conclusion from the Koretsky Institute of State and Law, which states that the employment contract with Yuriy Vitrenko as Naftogaz CEO is not subject to anti-corruption limitations set in item 1 part 1 article 26 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Prevention of Corruption”.
“I always rely on the rule of law and I believe that we will be able find out whose legal position is stronger in court,” Vitrenko concluded.