Published On: Thu, Mar 3rd, 2016

Secret defense of Victor Bondyk

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The disputable demarche of Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius and the accusations that he made against then first deputy head of Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Igor Kononenko, of lobbying those “overlooking” most  lucrative state-owned companies revealed a moth-eaten issues.

After the new government came to power, ministers promised to scrutinize the old schemes that were broadly used at various state-owned companies during Yanukovych’s presidency. Spokespeople for Ministry for Economy informed  Segodnya.ua website that when Aivaras Abromavicius’ was in office, the  heads of 42 crucial state-owned companies had been substituted. However, between Abromavicius and Kononenko arouse new row and the names of other state-run companies, such as Naftogaz, Ukrhimtransammiak and Powder Metallurgy Factory were mentioned in it. The director of the latter was replaced several months ago.

Yet, the notorious CEO of Ukrhimtransammiak is still working. Abromavicius was trying to discharge corruption conscript, ex-member of Party of Regions, Viktor Bondyk, for more than six months. Bondyk has been serving as the head of Ukrhimtransammiak (UHTA) for nearly 10 years – at least the Ministry for Economic Development says so.

Bondyk doesn’t appear to be anxious about what is happening. He goes on working and even keeps close cooperation with the Yanukovych family. Some criminal cases are pending for Bondyk now.

Bondyk has been the head of UHTA since 2007 and has outlived seven ministers. People often talk about his disgraceful practices at the state-run enterprise. The purchase of pumps and lifts for liquids for 55.4 million hryvnia in 2013 was quite a story. It seems all great, but the same equipment with exactly the same technical specifications costed the company in 201015.2 million hryvnia. The company’s maneuver to raise two loans totaling $42 million from Amsterdam Trade Bank NV and Alfa-Bank became the most high-profile row.

According to People’s Front deputy, Tatiana Chernovol, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine began an investigation for acts of abuse of authority and irrelevant use of credit funds committed by Bondyk. Tatiana  Chernovol told Segodnya.ua that the Office of the Prosecutor General filed  the cases against Bondyk only after she asked them to do it personally.

“Moreover, it was only after a private conversation that Arseniy Yatsenyuk had with Abromavicius, when the Ministry for Economic Development raised the rate for the transit of ammonia via Ukraine by nearly 30 percent in September 2015. Consider the fact: in 2010, pumping one ton of ammonia was $2/100 km, while during Bondyk’s stay in office the price was $0.5/100 km.  Bondyk had lobbied such tariffs at the Economic Development Ministry for taking grafts from the Russian co-owner of JSC Togliattiazot, Sergei Makhlai, who transits his ammonia via Ukraine,” people at the Cabinet told Segodnya.ua.  Sergei Makhlai is one of the outstanding representatives of the international criminal world. His birthplace is Russia, but obtained several US passports for Serge Makligh and George Mack. In the US, where there are harsh practices used against tax evaders, fraudsters and corrupt individuals, Makhlai is well-known as a respectable businessman. This is because Makhlai prefers to run real business in his homeland – Russia, which he left to live in the United States in 1994.

At long last, Russian law enforcement agencies demonstrated interest in the shady schemes to withdraw $1.5 billion in money and assets from Togliattiazot.

In December 2012, a criminal case was filed under Article 159.4 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation – large scale fraud. By decision of a Russian court, Makhlai and several of his associates had been detained in absentia and added to Interpol’s wanted list. Yet, Togliattiazot continues to work, however, not at full capacity. Its only export channel, the  Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, is controlled by Ukrhimtransammiak. This is the reason why Makhlai gives huge bribes to Bondyk.

Non-governmental organization Maidan Anti-Corruption Committee tried to put Bondyk to grass to some extent. At around the same time, an attempt was made on the life of the vice chairman of the organization, Ruslan Kalashnikov. The activist stayed alive, but the criminal case was hushed up.

Minister Abromavicius was also unable to discharge Bondyk, as he would always be either on holiday or on medical leave. Abromavichus decided to change the director of UHTA, at least officially, in September, when he  posted on Facebook: “Ukrhimtransammiak CEO has outlived seven ministers.  And there is plenty of questions to him. More than a month ago, I asked him to write a resignation letter (i.e, it was July – Ed.). He’s gone on vacation.”

According to sources at the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Victor Bondyk was over and over seen at the presidential administration, although it is still a question what he was there for. There is one more interesting fact: the discredited Victor Bondyk is the compadre of the sitting head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasily Gritsak.

As long as the heads of Ukrainian state-owned firms act as links at international corruption chains, led by criminals such as Makhlai, any endeavors to take enterprises out of shadow are fated to failure and so are the attempts to hold fair and transparent privatization.

 

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