Danish engineering company BIIR has won an All-Ukrainian contest “Conscientious Taxpayer of year” in the field of law, consulting, scientific and technical activities
On the 30th of November, the 20th anniversary of the Taxpayers Association, the awarding ceremony took place
BIIR’s journey in Ukraine is really noteworthy. In 2013, the first office was opened in Lugansk, with only 8 employees working there. BIIR stayed in Lugansk when the city was occupied, until one day some armed people attacked the office and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building. Therefore, in summer 2014 the company had to evacuate the employees with their families to a safe place – Odessa was chosen as such a place.
After moving to Odessa, Ukrainian BIIR subdivision started enlarging. In 4 years, the staff has grown to 130 people with an average salary of 28000 UAH. BIIR employees are mostly engineers, who provide consulting services for western industrial companies. BIIR specializes in renewable energy sources, now being one of the largest consulting companies in the wind energy industry.
BIIR was named a Conscientious Taxpayer in Odessa region three times in a row: in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Talking about the company’s achievements, the director Dinara Akzhyhitova says: “Working with the Danes is very pleasant and unusual at the same time. From the first day we met, it was clear that they would run the business only in accordance with the law. The rules of BIIR are simple: we strictly follow the laws, and if we meet officials breaking the law – we file complaints. If necessary, we also take the state to the court. Some think, it’s impossible to act this way in our country – but that’s not true. We are sure that since we follow the law – the truth is always at our side, and that fact makes our life much easier”.
There have been several conflicts between BIIR and the officials over the years: the customs office that wanted a bribe for the approval of the import declaration; the tax office that didn’t want to register an investment and Pension Fund that refused to pay a compensation to BIIR.
The episode with the Pension Fund is illustrative. According to the Ukrainian Law, if an employer creates a job with a salary three times bigger than the minimum one, and this job has been preserved for 2 years, then the state compensates the employer 50% of USC, paid during 1 year. The job positions at BIIR meet these criteria. But when the Pension Fund in Odessa first time got the report with these job positions mentioned, the officials called the accountant of the company telling him to delete those marks from the documents! And when two years later BIIR claimed its right to USC compensation, the decision of the Pension Fund of Ukraine was numbered 1, i. e. it was the first case when the employer had met all the requirements. BIIR had to defend the right to the compensation in court, because the Pension Fund of Ukraine found a bureaucratic reason for the refusal. After BIIR’s victory in court, the confrontation stopped for a while. At the beginning of 2018, the positive decision concerning the right to the compensation was received regarding 48 job positions created in 2015-2016. But later the Pension Fund suddenly changed its mind, sending a new decision containing a refusal, and then even shifted all the responsibility onto the Employment Centre which supervises the process of paying out compensations according to the latest changes to the regulatory documents.
Nevertheless, BIIR is confident that not only taxpayers must abide by the law, but also government authorities and its funds. So, the company will continue suing the Pension Fund until the justice is finally achieved.
“We have resolved most of conflict issues by submitting complaints to the corresponding offices. Owing to the help of the business ombudsman, it was possible to resolve one case; to say more, it was one of his first wins in Ukraine in such a field. We were forced to experience difficult legal proceedings with the Pension Fund, but we coped with them”, says Dinara Akzhyhitova and she adds: “It doesn’t mean that the only thing we do is searching for conflicts. We simply obey the state law from A to Z. Our Danish owners dismiss even the possibility of another scenario, since they come from the country where corruption doesn’t exist at all”.
The chairman of the management board of BIIR Group Thomas Sillesen adds with a smile: “It’s funny, but in Denmark we 100% follow all the rules as well, but nobody gives us any awards for this, while in Ukraine we are winning the 3rd year in a row!”
The Danes demonstrate intolerance to corruption not only during legal proceedings. Driven by its development plans, BIIR has purchased a building located at the Prymorska street in Odessa to place an office in it. The building became an object of a raider attack. Despite the raiders’ attempts to bribe judges and the prosecutor, the Danes defended their rights in court in February of 2018. In honor of this victory, BIIR’s management has installed a 6-ton runestone in front of the building. There is a mythological scene engraved on it: a raven of Odin, the Scandinavian god of wisdom, holding a snake in the claws as a symbol of the victory against corruption. Not only is the idea impressive, but also the scale of its implementation – BIIR’s runestone is the second largest in the world.
BIIR plans include expanding engineering staff in Odessa up to 500 people by 2022. In addition to the wind energy, the company works in other industries, such as the reconstruction of oilrigs, the design of the conveyor systems for airports, the development of software and industrial design. In order to satisfy the customers’ growing demand, BIIR invites prominent engineers from all over Ukraine to join the team. Moreover, the Danes went further by signing the agreement with Kharkiv Polytechnic University on engineers training in accordance with the EU standards. Signing agreements of this kind with the technical universities of Odessa and the other cities is the near-term prospect.
Regarding the old building located at 3B Prymorska street, BIIR is planning to build an office in a Danish style instead of it. “Our office will be energy efficient and futuristic, because it is the way we build in Denmark”, says Thomas Sillesen. Since it is one of the first projects of this kind in Odessa, the process of obtaining necessary legal documents and the construction itself may take considerable amount of time. The Danes are realistic about the current state of things that is why they have a back-up plan. BIIR is now looking for one more real estate object for accommodating a rapidly increasing staff of the company.
Being asked about the possibility of another raider attack and the loss of investments Thomas Sillesen answers: “No, on the contrary, this incident has taught us to stick to our guns and go on fighting till we win. We have also received a powerful support from the people that want a better Ukraine. Our common efforts shouldn’t prove futile, that is why we will develop not only BIIR Ukraine, but the other companies of our group will also invest in Ukraine in the coming years. Complete transparency and lawfulness of business are of paramount importance. In this way it both helps to avoid problems with law and provides much better relationships with banks. In their turn, banks knowing us as an honest and transparent company have a higher degree of security for their loans, and offer us interest rates which are significantly lower than for the other Ukrainian companies.”
BIIR Ukraine claims that by obeying the law 100%, the company can benefit from the economical point of view. Seemingly enormous tax payments are balanced by more efficient administration. Due to the absence of legal and out of the book accounting processes administrative routine takes significantly less time and resources. But, as Dinara Akzhyhitova states: “The main advantage is that all the employees know that we are an honest company which doesn’t betray its principles. The employees are confident and feel secure about their future. So they work with pleasure, accepting professional challenges and completely satisfying the needs of our clients – that’s our way to succeed!”