A total of $66.7 million held in accounts of Ukraine`s former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko has been forfeited in favor of the government of Antigua and Barbuda as a result of a successful operation by the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP), the Ukrainian news service of the Voice of America (VOA) has reported.
The ONDCP was reported to have secured a court order declaring the funds forfeited and instructed that they be transferred to the Government Forfeiture Fund.
It is reported that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has reasoned this decision by the fact that the funds were obtained through acts of corruption committed by Lazarenko during his political tenure in Ukraine. The government of that country is yet to decide how the seized funds will be spent.
Gene M. Burd, the lawyer of Arnall Golden Gregory, said the most remarkable thing was that the Ukrainian government had not engaged itself in the process to seek the recovery of those funds. To do that, the lawyer noted, it was necessary to meet the deadlines of judicial procedures, i.e. to start acting after Lazarenko`s arrest, or at least when it became known that those funds had been frozen in accounts in Antigua.
In turn, the Director of the ONDCP, Edward Croft, commended the work of his agents and stressed that this achievement signaled to the world that Antigua and Barbuda was not open to businesses of the international criminal community.
The litigation over the seized funds lasted between the former Ukrainian prime minister, through his representatives, and the government of Antigua and Barbuda, VOA wrote.