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28.09.2010

Mercedes, Cadillacs … all on donors’ money

   

The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine has carried out an audit and issued a damning report on the system by which law enforcement bodies are spending charitable aid.  It says that this is uncontrolled and largely unlawful. Charitable donations received by the MIA, the State Department for the Execution of Sentences, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the SBU [Security Service] have used this money extremely ineffectively, with numerous infringements of financial discipline and current legislation”.

Over the last two and a half years approximately 660 million UAH of such aid was largely spent not on law enforcement measures, but on maintaining unreformed law enforcement agencies which are a burden to the State budget, and have an overall staff of almost 600 thousand employees.

Most infringements, amounting to 15 million UAH, were identified with the MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] where the situation over the last eight months has become even worse. In conditions of under-funding of law enforcement measures and steadily rising expenditure on law enforcement work, involvement of charitable contributions should have been aimed at helping to resolve problems with ensuring the functioning of the ministry. However a considerable amount of the charitable income, despite it designated purpose, was directed at creating comfortable conditions for the management, purchase of cars, equipment, computer technology, repairing office premises and holding various ceremonies, competitions, services for banquets, etc.

The means of receiving charitable assistance are illegitimate with law enforcement agencies largely foisting their need for charitable assistance through letters asking for bills to procure goods and services to be paid. Thus, by charity, the law enforcement agencies have understood systematic abuse of their official position and veiled manifestations of corruption.

Such assistance has been actively provided by law enforcement agencies’ charitable funds, MIA state enterprises, different penal colonies of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences, and in a number of cases officers of the MIA, Prosecutor and SBU.

For example, state enterprises which belong to the sphere of management of the MIA and provide paid services to individuals and legal entities, have systematically paid the bills of the Ministry and paid over to it money as charitable aid, thus illegally directing to the MIA a part of its income from business. The funds received by these enterprises from services paid for by the public in the form of permits, the passport system, preparation of forms, etc. have been used not to ensure law enforcement activities, but for comfortable conditions for the law enforcement officers themselves. 

Having introduced systems for covert financing of territorial divisions by receiving charitable assistance from the state enterprises, the MIA was interested in increasing income from paid services and the prices for these have increased. In addition, the MIA has shut its eyes to the fact that enterprises are avoiding holding tenders which would lead to a loss of control over prices for materials, equipment and services. As a result, the use by the law enforcement bodies of uncontrolled income has created the risks of mutual dependence between the MIA and those providing charitable aid, and preparing the ground for corruption.

It is for this reason that the MIA has avoided carrying out the recommendations of the Accounting Chamber, retaining within its management uncontrolled income from paid services to individuals and legal entities.

The money thus obtained was spent to pay for communal services, computer technology, office equipment, expensive cars and even weapons for the MIA. From the beginning of this year the central office of the MIA bought as charitable assistance a Cadillac Escalade, worth half a million UAH, while the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor received a Mercedes Benz S 550 Long and Toyota Camri Premium 3.5, amounting to 1.5 million UAH.

The Accounting Chamber does point out some positive examples, such as the use of such income by the Border Guard Service of the MIA, however says that such cases were not systematic.

The Head of the Accounting Chamber, V. Symonenko noted that “through the under financing of the law enforcement bodies our country is virtually initiating and provoking such situations. The MIA is “consuming” as much state funding as all the social fields put together – education, culture, medicine and science. This entire practice with charitable aid being used for the benefit of the law enforcement bodies must be stopped”.

Mr Symonenko added that this abuse of official position, demonstrations of corruption generate public distrust in the law enforcement system as a whole and damage Ukraine’s reputation in the world.

The Chamber believes that the introduction of an effective anti-corruption mechanism and radical reform of the law enforcement agencies, including with regarding to the receiving and using of charitable contributions, will make it possible to avoid the risks of corruption in the law enforcement system and covert influence on the work of law enforcement bodies.

Very slightly abridged from the report by the Accounting Chamber’s Press Service

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