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“Illustration” of Ukraine’s transit prospects

01/ 03/ 2021
  While top-level officials at official foreign meetings invite foreign investors to develop the business and port infrastructure of our country, extolling the Ukrainian investment climate, international traders are already faced with a harsh reality on the territory of Ukraine. This reality was not bypassed also by SSA Agri DMCC, which, in full compliance with the requirements of the current legislation of Ukraine, carried out customs clearance of sunflower seeds that were transported by road through the territory of Ukraine. However, the Odessa customs of the State Customs Service, for some unknown reason, refused to register part of the vehicles that arrived at the Port, which in itself is a violation by Ukraine of its international obligations, including on the legality and predictability of customs procedures for transit of goods through the territory of Ukraine. Further, on the basis of the notification of the Odessa customs of the State Customs Service, criminal proceedings №32020100110000063 were registered. Despite the refusal by the investigating judge Rybak M.A. to satisfy the investigators petition regarding the seizure of the goods sunflower seeds, from November 25 to November 26, 2020, the investigators carried out a temporary seizure of documents and property, including sunflower seeds in the amount of 1596 tons. Later, by the same Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv on the basis of the decision of the investigating judge Bugel V.V. property was arrested, including sunflower seeds. Herewith, the arrest warrant did not specify whether to allow the investigator to change the method and place of storage of goods that were in the responsible storage of the Forwarder, nor the right of investigative bodies to seize sunflower seeds from the Forwarders possession. Taking into account that the facts stated in the petition for the arrest of sunflower seeds do not correspond to reality, the representatives of SSA Agri DMCC filed the motion on disaffirming of decision on arrest of the property. At the same time, in connection with the unlawful actions of officials of the Office of Large Taxpayers of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine which entailed grave consequences for both the Forwarder and SSA Agri DMCC, representatives of a company filed a report to the State Bureau of Investigation about abuse of power by law enforcement officials. On the basis of this report, the investigator of the State Bureau of Investigation opened criminal proceedings No. 62020150000001192. The lawyer of SSA Agri DMCC notes that officials of the Odessa Customs Service of the State Customs Service, the Office of Large Taxpayers of the State Fiscal Service, the Office of the Prosecutor General and Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv committed a number of gross violations due to which it became possible to illegally block the transit cargo of international trading company. Among the most obvious violations, the lawyer named conducting a search at night, missing the deadline for applying for an arrest by the prosecutor, and missing the deadline for making a decision on the arrest of Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv. “But the most interesting thing is that the company-owner of the cargo SSA Agri DMCC, its officials or other employees are not involved in the criminal case № 32020100110000063, they were never even summoned for questioning by the investigator. With a high probability, this may indicate that the ultimate goal of this dubious special operation of customs officers and fiscal officials is by no means a search for the truth, but, perhaps, illegal seizure of 1,500 tons of sunflower seeds worth half a million dollars, the lawyer said about the peculiarities of the Ukrainian business climate and law enforcement. Realizing the complete illegality of the actions of Ukrainian officials, SSA Agri DMCC also addressed an official letter to the European Business Association with a request to join in resolving the case and help return the illegally seized goods worth more than half a million dollars. The outcome of this case will be one of the vivid illustrations of whether Ukraine really wants to improve its transit potential, or the authorities will continue to blame the economic crisis and the pandemic, covering up the illegal actions of their officials.

While top-level officials at official foreign meetings invite foreign investors to develop the business and port infrastructure of our country, extolling the Ukrainian investment climate, international traders are already faced with a harsh reality on the territory of Ukraine.

This reality was not bypassed also by SSA Agri DMCC, which, in full compliance with the requirements of the current legislation of Ukraine, carried out customs clearance of sunflower seeds that were transported by road through the territory of Ukraine. However, the Odessa customs of the State Customs Service, for some unknown reason, refused to register part of the vehicles that arrived at the Port, which in itself is a violation by Ukraine of its international obligations, including on the legality and predictability of customs procedures for transit of goods through the territory of Ukraine.

Further, on the basis of the notification of the Odessa customs of the State Customs Service, criminal proceedings №32020100110000063 were registered. Despite the refusal by the investigating judge Rybak M.A. to satisfy the investigator’s petition regarding the seizure of the goods “sunflower seeds”, from November 25 to November 26, 2020, the investigators carried out a temporary seizure of documents and property, including sunflower seeds in the amount of 1596 tons. Later, by the same Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv on the basis of the decision of the investigating judge Bugel V.V. property was arrested, including sunflower seeds. Herewith, the arrest warrant did not specify whether to allow the investigator to change the method and place of storage of goods that were in the responsible storage of the Forwarder, nor the right of investigative bodies to seize sunflower seeds from the Forwarder’s possession. Taking into account that the facts stated in the petition for the arrest of sunflower seeds do not correspond to reality, the representatives of SSA Agri DMCC filed the motion on disaffirming of decision on arrest of the property.

At the same time, in connection with the unlawful actions of officials of the Office of Large Taxpayers of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine which entailed grave consequences for both the Forwarder and SSA Agri DMCC, representatives of a company filed a report to the State Bureau of Investigation about abuse of power by law enforcement officials. On the basis of this report, the investigator of the State Bureau of Investigation opened criminal proceedings No. 62020150000001192.

The lawyer of SSA Agri DMCC notes that officials of the Odessa Customs Service of the State Customs Service, the Office of Large Taxpayers of the State Fiscal Service, the Office of the Prosecutor General and Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv committed a number of gross violations due to which it became possible to illegally block the transit cargo of international trading company. Among the most obvious violations, the lawyer named conducting a search at night, missing the deadline for applying for an arrest by the prosecutor, and missing the deadline for making a decision on the arrest of Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv. “But the most interesting thing is that the company-owner of the cargo SSA Agri DMCC, its officials or other employees are not involved in the criminal case № 32020100110000063, they were never even summoned for questioning by the investigator. With a high probability, this may indicate that the ultimate goal of this dubious “special operation” of customs officers and fiscal officials is by no means a search for the truth, but, perhaps, illegal seizure of 1,500 tons of sunflower seeds worth half a million dollars”, the lawyer said about the peculiarities of the Ukrainian business climate and law enforcement.

Realizing the complete illegality of the actions of Ukrainian officials, SSA Agri DMCC also addressed an official letter to the European Business Association with a request to join in resolving the case and help return the illegally seized goods worth more than half a million dollars.

The outcome of this case will be one of the vivid illustrations of whether Ukraine really wants to improve its transit potential, or the authorities will continue to blame the economic crisis and the pandemic, covering up the illegal actions of their officials.

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