The Bureau of Economic Security has been operating for nine months. What conclusions can be drawn?
President of the Taxpayers Association of Ukraine, Vice-President of the Taxpayers Association of Europe
The other day, nine months have passed since the launch of the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine. However, during its existence, this body, on which Ukrainian business had high hopes, never functioned properly and in full.
Domestic business endured the creation of the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Business Council has held numerous conferences and round tables on this topic. The Bureau was supposed to become the only analytical body with law enforcement function for the investigation of economic crimes. Clownery should have become a thing of the past, and the new body should have engaged in crime prevention, not business hunting.
Thanks to the intervention of President Zelensky, the qualitative law on the Bureau of Economic Security was adopted by the parliament and signed by the head of state in March 2021. This paved the way for fundamental changes in the system of combating economic crimes and the creation of a new model of a law enforcement body — a single analytical body with law enforcement functions for combating economic crimes.
What results did the Bureau achieve during the nine months of its work? In order to understand the activity of this body as objectively as possible, the Economic Expert Platform coalition of analytical centers monitored the activities of the BES for several months and recently presented an analytical report.
I will immediately point out that it would be incorrect to make fundamental conclusions about the effectiveness of the BES’s activity for an incomplete year from the day of its foundation. However, we are already observing trends — unfortunately, not in favor of the new body.
The business community was waiting for the introduction of a new model of police activity, which has already been tested in Europe and the USA for a long time. Intelligence-led policing, so-called ILP, is a cornerstone of modern law enforcement practice that emphasizes a proactive and preventive overall methodology and enables law enforcement officers to stay one step ahead of criminals. Law enforcement officers can identify and see trends and patterns that connect different crimes, people, and locations, which in turn allows them to respond and prevent crimes much faster and more effectively.
Considering the insignificant time of the department’s work and along with the fact that the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine has been ongoing since February 2022, it is currently impossible to relevantly calculate most of the basic KPI of the department.
At the same time, based on the results of the analysis and summarization of the data available on the official resources of the Office of the Prosecutor General, the State Tax Service of Ukraine, the Bureau of Economic Security and those provided directly by the department, it is possible to draw only certain intermediate conclusions.
- 1. At the moment, the activities of the BES are not transparent, there are no official reports on the Bureau’s website, the management refuses to provide detailed information to people’s deputies, which makes it difficult to assess the work of this body. Experts are concerned about the huge discrepancies between the data contained in Form 1-SL (order of the Office of the Prosecutor General and BES dated 31.01.2022 No. 13/26), Form No. 1 (order of the Prosecutor General dated June 30, 2020 No. 299) and information which is posted on the official website of the BES. This is a key question for the BES, without the solution of which it is impossible to make a full analysis of the work of the Bureau.
In particular, the Bureau reported that as a result of the measures taken since the beginning of the year during the investigation of criminal proceedings by the BES detectives, damages caused to the state in the amount of more than UAH 3.1 billion were compensated and property in the amount of UAH 36.6 billion was seized.
In turn, the General Prosecutor’s Office recorded slightly different results of the Bureau’s activity in the first 6 months of the year: damages in the amount of UAH 0 were compensated, property in the amount of UAH 4.2 billion was seized.
There are discrepancies in other statistical data as well: regarding the number of criminal offenses in which individuals were served with a notice of suspicion; for which proceedings have been sent to the court with an indictment; in which proceedings have been closed or in which a decision has not yet been made.
- The lack of detailed data makes it impossible to carry out full-fledged objective monitoring of the specified indicators, instead, it was possible to collect information on several of them from open sources.
Given the small number of initiated criminal proceedings — 142 proceedings — «transparent» business ceased to experience constant «terror» from law enforcement agencies. This, in fact, is the only positive conclusion of the analytical work.
At the same time, low indicators of the specific weight of proceedings in which a notice of suspicion was served, as well as sent to court, may indicate the inadequate quality and efficiency of the pre-trial investigation, and as a result — to the delay of the investigation and the subsequent loss of procedural perspective.
- According to official releases on the BES website, active work is underway to seize property of the Russian Federation, to prevent crimes involving budgetary compensation, non-payment of taxes, etc. However, experts cannot obtain officially depersonalized or at least aggregated indicators based on the results of this work and draw appropriate conclusions.
- The department’s personnel policy, in particular, non-transparent tenders, which led to a conflict with the Council of Public Control under the BES, and the dismissal of employees of the central apparatus (a trend that continued in the following period) causes considerable concern.
In general, the indicated indicators indicate that there was no qualitative breakthrough in the work of the BES, compared to the units of the tax police of the SFS (State Fiscal Service), which would allow us to talk about a real fight against economic crime.
And not only Ukrainian business is aware of this. The project of the Recovery Plan of Ukraine contains the task «to fully launch the activities of the Bureau of Economic Security as a key body in the field of combating economic crimes.» To implement this task, it is proposed to adopt a draft law on relaunching the competition for the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine with the involvement of international experts and the possibility of conducting a pre-trial investigation of economic crimes exclusively by one body. The project should also provide for a ban on the participation in the competition of former law enforcement officers who were engaged in the investigation of economic crimes.
Only by changing the approach to the formation of the Bureau, we will be able to restart this body and restore the trust of business and society in its activities.