The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on Tuesday confirmed that Chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine Vsevolod Knyazev was detained in a case of bribes to members of the court from the owner of the Finance and Credit group, a Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Zhevago.
ZN.ua, 05/15/2023, “NABU detained the head of the Supreme Court Knyazev on a multi-million dollar bribe for a decision in favor of Zhevago”: The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine exposed the head of the Supreme Court, Vsevolod Knyazev, of receiving a bribe of about $3 million (approximately UAH 110 million at the current exchange rate – ed.). […]
According to ZN.UA from a source in NABU, Knyazev received money from people who advocated court decisions in favor of the oligarch Konstantin Zhevago. Recall that the Grand Chamber of the Supreme considered the case on the ownership of 40.19% of the shares of the Poltava Mining and Processing Plant (PGOK) Ferrexpo. His decision the authority left the said shares to Zhevago-related companies, canceling the invalidation of the sale and purchase agreements concluded 20 years ago. […] At the same time, Knyazev has not had a deputy for about a year and a half, so his detention will mean “decapitation” of the body. — Inset K.ru
According to NABU Director Semyon Krivonos, this is “the largest exposure of a person holding the highest position in the judicial system.”
The Anti-Corruption Bureau clarified that the investigation is underway under the article of the Criminal Code on receiving illegal benefits (bribes) and offering such benefits, which provides for punishment in the form of imprisonment from 8 to 12 years.
“In the course of the events, we recorded a number of contacts between the owner of the Finance and Credit group and one of the owners of a lawyer association that was used to cover up criminal activities,” Krivonos said at a press conference broadcast on the NABU YouTube page. He said that the defendants in the case agreed to transfer a bribe in favor of persons holding high positions in the court, for making a decision that the entrepreneur needs. Representatives of the NABU who took part in the press conference reported that an undercover NABU agent participated in the investigative activities.
Strana.ua, 05/16/2023, “NABU spoke about a large-scale corruption scheme in the Supreme Court. Details”: According to NABU, the investigation recorded contacts between representatives of the Finance and Credit group and a lawyer from one of the legal associations.
“They agreed to transfer the unlawful benefit to one of the highest officials of the court in order to make a decision beneficial to one of the entrepreneurs,” they said at a briefing, confirming the information of the “Strana” that they were talking about the structures of the oligarch Konstantin Zhevago.
The first court hearing in the case was to be held on March 15, but it was postponed by agreement “to accumulate funds”, which were transferred to the lawyer. And already on April 19, a court decision was made, and in early May, the leadership of the Supreme Court gave instructions on the distribution of the bribe among other judges. On May 3, the first part of the bribe was handed over, on May 15, the second part, it was on it that the head of the Supreme Court was “fixed”. […]
It is also reported that during the searches, large sums of money were confiscated from judges of the Supreme Court, but the investigation of their origin is still ongoing. At the NABU briefing were presented audio recordingsin which the defendants in the bribe case in the Supreme Court are discussing “large sums” before a certain “event”.
“One… 350 you received. There are 450 left. When will you bring it?” – such a question sounds in a conversation.
Who owns the voices that are heard on the tapes and what exactly they are discussing, was not explained at the NABU briefing. They only stated that the defendants in the case spoke in a streamlined language and tried to conspire their intentions. — Inset K.ru
At the moment, no charges have been brought against members of the Supreme Court of Ukraine in the case of a bribe to members of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, but two people have been detained. The NABU said that the investigation also concerns other members of the Supreme Court, in addition to Knyazev. Representatives of NABU said that the investigation also concerns other decisions of the Supreme Court, in addition to what concerns Zhevago.
The publication “Ukrainian Truth” reported on Monday that Ukrainian law enforcement officers detained Vsevolod Knyazev, chairman of the country’s Supreme Court, while receiving a bribe. According to the Ukrainian edition “Strana”, searches were carried out in the homes of 18 judges of the Supreme Court. At the same time, the publication, citing sources in law enforcement agencies, claims that Knyazev received a bribe from billionaire Konstantin Zhevago, who was charged with allegations of embezzlement of $113 million Ukrainian bank “Finance and Credit”, of which he was the owner. Knyazev has been heading the Supreme Court of Ukraine since December 2021.
fakty.com.ua, 05/15/2023, “Became the head of the Supreme Court in 8 years: what is known about Vsevolod Knyazev”: The future chairman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was born in Nikolaev on May 25, 1979. Knyazev graduated from the Nikolaev Humanitarian Institute of the Ukrainian State Maritime Technical University. He also began his career in law in Nikolaev, having received a lawyer’s certificate in 2001. Already in 2013, he became a judge, who was appointed to this position by the fugitive president Victor Yanukovich.
Knyazev’s career developed rapidly and already in 2015 he was elected chairman of the Nikolaev District Administrative Court. Two years later, in November 2017, Knyazev became a judge of the Administrative Court of Cassation, and already on December 12 of the same year, Knyazev was elected Secretary of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court.
That is, in fact, eight years have passed from the moment of appointment as a judge to the appointment as head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Vsevolod Knyazev is married to Yulia Knyazeva, who have two children – a daughter and a son. […]
In 2020, Knyazev filed a declaration stating that the head of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has an apartment with an area of 47.4 m² and a residential building with an area of 20.2 m² in Nikolaev. In Kyiv, he rents an apartment of 133 m². Knyazev’s wife owns a Mercedes-Benz GLE 250 purchased in 2018, which the judge himself uses. For 2020, Vsevolod Knyazev received 2,957,485 salaries from the Supreme Court. The judge has more than 40,000 UAH and $34,000 in bank accounts
But it is important to understand the circumstances of the case itself, in which the bribe appears. Formally, this is a dispute between the structures of the Russian oligarch Alexandra Babakova (subject to Ukrainian sanctions) and Zhevago for control of a 40% stake in Poltava GOK, a key asset of Zhevago’s business empire.
At first glance, it is strange that Babakov (whose assets are subject to confiscation) is suing for anything in Ukraine at all.
However, there is logic.
Zhevago’s opponents in this trial were represented by Viktor Barsuk’s law firm. Previously, he was considered close to the influential people’s deputy from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Alexander Granovsky. But lately he has been working closely with Kolomoisky. Therefore, according to one version, it is in his interests that the struggle for the Poltava GOK is carried out: after Babakov’s structures are returned 40%, they will immediately be transferred to ARMA, which will then transfer them to one or another structure. It is quite possible that the structures of Kolomoisky. Or others close to power.
However, as we already wrote, Zhevago’s opponents lost the case in the Supreme Court in April 2023 and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. But now, after the NABU statement about the bribe to Knyazev, there is a reason to reconsider this decision. Which will surely be used.
In this regard, there are rumors in legal circles that the criminal case against Knyazev in one form or another was helped to investigate (or even initiated) by opponents of Zhevago in order to review the court decision on the Poltava GOK. However, there is no clear evidence for this yet.
As for Zhevago himself, he now faces a new criminal case – for bribing judges. This is already a corruption article under investigation by NABU.
However, there is an important nuance here – in order to present him with a new suspicion, NABU and SAPO, according to international law, must obtain permission for this from the French court, which is now considering Ukraine’s request for the extradition of Zhevago in another case – the bankruptcy of the Bank “Finance and credit” (this case is being handled by the State Bureau of Investigation). In the first instance, the court refused to extradite and an appeal against this decision is now being considered.
If the French court gives the go-ahead for the presentation of suspicion, then Zhevago may receive a new extradition request in France – this time in a corruption case.