Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch has branded the illegal withdrawal of assets from Ukraine by ex-top officials during the Viktor Yanukovych rule a crime against the Ukrainian citizens.
The diplomat agreed with the idea that asset recovery cases are ”complicated” because there is the ”need for justice and getting the assets back for the Ukrainian people”. She also stressed the extreme importance of due process.
”I think all of us encourage the Ukrainian government, the prosecutors, the justice system to really double on their efforts to recover these assets,” the Ambassador said.
She also made clear in her comments that ”this is not just an abstract kind – some money is siphoned off from some government account, it`s actually stealing from the Ukrainian people.”
Ms Yovanovitch explained that this concerns all groups, ”whether it is a pensioner who is not able to get a larger pension because that money was stolen, whether it is a child who`s not getting a better education because that money was stolen, whether it is a sick people who are not getting the kind of healthcare they need, because that money was stolen.”
”This is a crime against the Ukrainian people and justice must be served number one, and the assets must be recovered number two,” she said.
In turn, Head of the Law Enforcement Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine Christopher W. Smith said: ”Since 2014, the United States has actively supported efforts by the Government of Ukraine to recover assets stolen during the Yanukovych era.”
”We have provided and continue to provide multiple FBI agents and analysts, and support from U.S. federal prosecutors to assist Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, including the PGO, NABU, SAPO, and the National Police, in investigating complex asset recovery and corruption investigations,” he said.
Earlier, Ukraine`s Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko said that some $1.5 billion worth of assets of the Yanukovych regime had not yet been recovered to the state budget.
“For Ukraine to be able to count on international assistance with the issue of asset recovery, we have to show that we are doing everything possible to recover the funds that are in Ukraine. Embarrassing is the phenomenon when $1.5 billion, arrested by the government and law enforcement agencies, has not yet gone to the state budget,” said the minister.
According to him, with this in mind, it is difficult for Ukraine to appeal to its international partners, [the countries] where the assets are blocked, with a request to return them, while Ukraine is unable to do this on its own soil.