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Establishment of Bureau of Economic Security. What Ukrainian business should expect

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On November 3, the Verkhovna Rada voted for resigning a number of Ministers and appointing new ones. Among others, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Minister of Economy Oleksiy Lyubchenko resigned. On the same day, NABU and SSU searched Lyubchenko's house. The media reported that the alleged reason for the searches was suspicion of tax evasion.

According to rumors, it was Lyubchenko, who had previously held the post of Head of the State Tax Service, who covered the "carousel fraud"—the fraudulent schemes for VAT refunds. According to the previously dismissed Minister of Finance Umanskyi, the "carousel fraud" market volume in Ukraine is 5 billion UAH per month, 60 billion UAH per year.

If the situation in the country is such that special forces have to search with special forces in even the Deputy Prime Minister’s house, then the business has a logical question: what are the future prospects of Ukrainian taxation and what are the rules of the game in this field?

It is planned that the new body—the Bureau of Economic Security (BES)—will take over the functions of all controlling structures in the economic sphere within Ukraine, including the SFS (State Fiscal Service) to be dismantled and the notorious SSU’s "K" Department.

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The risk pointed out by the representatives of business and business associations is that old cadres will become part of the new body. The very same specialists in tax pits, carousel frauds, running protection, and extortion, who previously were engaged in similar things in controlling structures under all authorities. And it was their activity that led to the need to establish a new Bureau. But if you fill it with old, corrupt personnel, then the reform of the controlling structures turns into a "rearrangement of beds in a brothel."

Recently, law enforcement officials distinguished themselves by several high-profile economic scandals at once.

In particular, in the summer, the SFS searched in the chain Vsi.Svoi on suspicion of tax evasion. The media presence and publicity led to the fact that the network was able to quickly resume its work, and the conflict was hushed up.

In early July, the SSU searched the company MMI Engineering, which it accused of illegal mining and seized 3,800 Playstation consoles.

And in September, the SFS proudly reported on the successful large-scale special operation at Seo Core LLC that was called an "illegal online casino", despite the fact that during the search, law enforcement officials were provided with documents confirming that Seo Core LLC had had KRAIL (Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries) license for organizing and holding gambling. The irony is that Seo Core LLC is not an online casino, but an IT company that provides its services to other online casinos, and bought a license precisely in order to protect itself from such problems.

The feature of this kind of large-scale searches and subsequent ambitious statements by law enforcement officials about a powerful victory is that in the future they do not lead to any results.

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For example, the confiscation of 3,800 consoles from MMI Engineering led only to blocking the enterprise’s work. It turned out that this illegal mining farm that the SSU defeated was neither illegal nor even mining. Therefore, on August 3, the hearing in the MMI Engineering case was postponed with the wording "due to insufficient facts on the part of the Prosecutor's Office." After that, in an attempt to find arguments for the court, the SSU made a second search on August 6.

In the case of Seo Core LLC, the ambitious statements of the SFS also melted away in court. Two months after the search, on October 28, the court ruled to return all the confiscated property of Seo Core LLC.

In other words, the only actual result of this kind of law enforcement activity, apart from press releases, is the confiscation of equipment pending trial and blocking of the company's work, followed by losing in court and returning to square one, but with actual losses both for business and for the budget the useless activities of law enforcement officials are financed from.

According to the representatives of the Council of Public Control (CPC) of the BES, this behavior of law enforcement officials is a system and has a sole ambition: to create such problems for business that it will want to solve out of court. In other words, the motivation is often extortion that they engage in under the guise of fighting tax evasion.

In Ukraine, there is a situation where it is corruption, and not the fight against it, that is the main motivation for many employees of the regulatory bodies. And it is precisely this situation that resulted in dismantling these structures and establishing new ones.

But in order for the new services to become really new, it is necessary to fill them with people who were not previously involved in corrupt activities. That is why, at the last meeting of the BES CPC, the issue of accepting complaints from business representatives who had been subjected to such attacks was raised in order to form a "black list of law enforcement officials" and block their joining the BES through a competition. This issue was discussed with Vadym Melnik himself and had a positive response. At the moment, a specific mechanism for executing this decision is being considered.

However, even a full-fledged transparent competition, of course, cannot guarantee a 100% result. For example, the same Oleksiy Lyubchenko was one of the members of the competition committee that chose the new Head of the BES, the one whose house was searched by the NABU and the SSU on suspicion of shaving up "carousel frauds" and tax evasion.

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