One year into NABU’s war against Bakhmatyuk, his company has lost more than the value of assets abandoned in the occupied Crimea and Donbas as a result of the Russian aggression. Over this period, 9,000 Ukrainians have lost their jobs, taxes paid by the company have dropped by 50% and the national economy has lost 0.3% of GDP. In his column in Ukrainska Pravda, Oleg Bakhmatyuk discusses the fallout for the economy from war waged by NABU against his companies, Ukrlanddfarming and Avangard. 18 September 2020 marks one year since the case against Oleg Bakhmatyuk was reopened despite having been previously investigated and closed for lack of evidence of a criminal offence. According to him, the year has exposed the drawbacks of the decision-making framework of the anticorruption authorities and how the poor decision-making is harming the state and business companies. ‘We are witnessing a very interesting tendency: over the past couple of years, public trust in NABU and Sytnyk has hit bottom. As few as 1.1% of the respondents are fully satisfied with Sytnyk’s performance in his post. NABU has record-low performance ratings, while the degree of public distrust in the fight against corruption declared by the government serves as a clear performance evaluation of the bureau and its director’, concludes Bakhmatyuk.
‘I’m not claiming it is that particular case has opened people’s eyes to the value Sytnyk adds in his post, which is reflected unambiguously in NABU’s performance evaluation by the Ukrainian public. But the Pysaruk/Bakhmatyuk case serves as a spectacular example, an acid test showing that the anticorruption framework is not working, that it is only creating an illusion of activity by certain officials and serves as a weapon against personal or political enemies’.
Bakhmatyuk reveals that before NABU started attacking him as part of the case against VAB Bank, the Ukrlandfarming/Avangard Group had created 30 thousand jobs and paid UAH 7.7 billion over the past three years, generating 1% of GDP.
“We are talking about thousands of community projects in social work, infrastructure and culture, we have supported local arts and sports. This is a company that I have been building since 1991. It was around the time when one of the founders of the Anticorruption Centre NGO aka ANTAC was serving 10 years in prison for theft, while I was actively rehabilitating 1800 assets in 20 regions of Ukraine.
Now ANTAC claims that the case against me is not affecting my company in any way.
‘I can see through their motives: they are people who have never worked in the real economy, they have no idea how pressure being put on the company owner is limiting the company’s access to credit and other financing opportunities for its projects, how partners reduce business with the company being pressurised by law enforcement to mitigate risk’, explains Bakhmatyuk.
The businessmen sums up the consequences for the economy and state budget from the attacks against him by Artem Sytnyk: 9 thousand jobs lost; some 20 egg farms and animal feed mills closed; taxes paid down by 50%; output down by 30%; community project support substantially reduced.
‘In the whole world, a business that generates real GDP is supported by the government, not the other way around. We do not expect support but we expect top officials to hear us and evaluate the consequences. Those consequences are not only affecting Bakhmatyuk and his company, those are consequences for the economy of Ukraine as a whole.
Agroholding Avangard lost 30% of its assets to the Russian aggression. Sytnyk’s personal war against me has cost the company 50% of its capacity’, concludes Bakhmatyuk.
Just as a reminder, the case against Pysaruk and Bakhmatyuk was opened on allegations of misappropriation of proceeds of refinancing extended by the NBU to VAB Bank in 2014. Expert opinions by the Deposit Guarantee Fund confirm that the proceeds were used according to their designated purpose, they were paid out to depositors. Furthermore, Bakhmatyuk has made a personal pledge promising to repay UAH 8 billion to the state, he has not had any response from the NBU however.