: :inin Kyiv (EET)

Kernel`s top managers complain to country`s leaders about SBU search


The top managers of the Kernel company, one of Ukraine`s largest agribusinesses, have sent an open letter to Ukrainian authorities, complaining about recent searches conducted by the SBU Security Service of Ukraine at the company`s office, the Kernel`s press service reported.
”On May 12, 2016 Kernel`s headquarters in Kyiv was searched by representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine. 350 employees of our company were locked in the building from 13.00 to 19.00. Without assessing the format of the search, we want to note that all 15 corporate documents seized by the Security Service of Ukraine could have been handed over willingly within 10 minutes as Kernel repeatedly offered to the representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine. Transparency and openness are Kernel`s core values in dealing with our stakeholders, including state bodies of Ukraine. We believe that the representatives of the Security Service could have spent those six hours more efficiently, given the high level of corruption in Ukraine and ongoing terrorist threat,” the open letter posted on the company`s website reads.
Currently Kernel`s headquarters and all other divisions are operating as usual, the company said.
”We would like to note that it is not law enforcement agencies that are forming the economic future of Ukraine. Rather, it is responsible companies that invest in the development of the national economy, build modern factories, and introduce the most advanced technology. Kernel, the largest producer and exporter of agricultural products from Ukraine to the world markets, employs more than 14,000 Ukrainians. Our tax payments to Ukraine`s state budget exceeded UAH 1 billion in 2015. Over the past five years, we invested in excess of UAH 18 billion into the country`s agricultural industry,” the letter reads.
The company underlines that for the last nine years, its shares have been traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, with Kernel having been recognized for its best IPO in Eastern Europe.
”Our shareholders include the largest pension and investment funds in Europe and the United States, while the world`s largest banks are among our partners. Over the years, we have led East European and national ratings for business transparency and corporate governance quality,” the company`s management stressed in the letter.
The company says it is confident in its legal position and will defend it in court. According to the company`s management, the case used to conduct the search was initiated based on distorted facts and has no prospects.
”We have repeatedly proved our position in courts, regardless of changes in political power and rotations in law enforcement agencies. This situation will be no exception,” the letter reads.
Kernel says such actions by the Security Service of Ukraine negate multiple efforts by the country`s senior management to attract foreign capital to Ukraine. Kernel serves as an international marker of Ukraine`s agriculture sector investment attractiveness and Ukraine`s overall reputational reliability, the company emphasized.
This situation clearly sends a negative and threatening signal to current and potential international investors, the company said.
”Without changing the style and philosophy of law enforcement agencies` approach to the business community, any statements on the improvement of investment climate will be mere declarations,” according to the letter.
The company said it would do its best to ensure this situation entails no negative consequences for its shareholders and employees.
”We are ready to contribute as much as possible to any of your efforts to establish a transparent, responsible, and mutually beneficial relationship between business and government. As a public company, we are always ready to support you in this matter and to work toward strengthening the international economic reputation of Ukraine,” the company` managers added.

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