High Anti-Corruption Court acquitted Omelyan in the case of reducing port dues
The High Anti-Corruption Court acquitted the former Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan.
The court found Volodymyr Omelyan not guilty in the case of lowering the rates of port dues, which, according to the investigation, entailed damage to the state in the amount of UAH 30.5 million (USD 1.158 million), the press service of High Anti-Corruption Court reported.
Volodymyr Omelyan was accused of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 211 of the Criminal Code; the article provides for punishment for the making of regulations or directives that modify budget revenues and expenses contrary to the procedures prescribed by law. The court did not see corpus delicti in the actions of the ex-minister, so Omelyan was acquitted.
The specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office (SAPO) did not agree with this decision. The SAPO prosecutor is going to appeal the verdict in the appellate court.
According to the investigation, in December 2017, the ex-minister issued an order to reduce all port dues (except for the lighthouse) by 20%. At the same time, one of these fees – administrative – is the revenue side of the state budget. Therefore, only the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine), and not the minister, could change its ammount.
According to prosecutors, Omelyan’s decision to reduce fees led to the fact that the state budget did not receive UAH 30.4 million (USD 1.154 million) in 2018: UAH 173.1 million (USD 6.57 million) was received from the projected UAH 203.5 million (USD 7.72 million). This data was confirmed by the State Audit Service and forensic examination.
The Ministry of Infrastructure subsequently acknowledged that the order to cut fees fell short of its intended purpose.
Volodymyr Omelyan himself commented on his acquittal in court:
“To say that this criminal case shocked me, government officials and business would be an understatement. For the first time in the modern history of Ukraine for the reform, reduction of tax pressure on business – they want to put the person who was engaged in this in prison for 6 years! Despite the fact that everything was done correctly, we went through seven circles of hell through the Cabinet of Ministers, meetings, approvals, the state ultimately made a profit of more than $260 million and the growth of the maritime industry by 20%! In fact, if the court sentenced me for this, then every next person who wants to reduce taxes or tariffs, raise pensions or salaries will automatically go to jail for “damage” to the state!”.
Recall that on June 19th, 2020, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and SAPO reported on suspicion of Omelyan of committing actions, as a result of which the state budget did not receive UAH 30.5 million (USD 1.158 million). Volodymyr Omelyan himself announced this on his Facebook page:
“Last Friday I was invited to NABU to give additional testimony in criminal proceedings on the reduced by the Government of Ukraine of port tariffs and dues by 20% in 2018. Despite the fact that I was invited for interrogation as a witness, the NABU detective is trying to convey to me the suspicion that the decrease in port tariffs and dues led to a reduction in state budget revenues and I (although this was a collegial decision of the Cabinet of Ministers) caused damage to the state.”
Omelyan also emphasized that he reduced port dues by 20% to increase goods/cargo traffic, and thanks to this decrease, the maritime industry showed an increase of more than 20% in 2018-2019, and is still growing.