The former head of the State Property Fund, Dmytro Sennychenko, is suspected of organising a criminal group. NABU detectives notified him of suspicion of embezzling more than UAH 500 million from state-owned enterprises. However, Sennychenko has been enjoying the beaches of Spain and Monaco for a year now, having been allowed to leave the country during the war by some “miracle”. This high-profile case may be the beginning of a chain that will lead anti-corruption authorities to other high-ranking officials involved in the destruction of Ukraine’s energy sector.

Sennychenko’s revelation is valuable because it loudly reveals the practices that prevail at Ukraine’s state-owned enterprises. And they do not change even during the war. For example, Sennychenko was fired because there was no longer any place to stigmatise him, as he had exposed himself as the organiser of fake auctions for a specific person, as well as schemes at the SPFU enterprises. Similarly, Energy Minister Orzhel, the heads of Centrenergo, and the management of the customs office were fired. They were dismissed because they were all caught in gigantic corruption. But they did it quietly, without any fuss, and that’s why none of them is still in jail.

Dmytro Sennychenko
Dmytro Sennychenko (@sennychenko) / Twitter)

If the president claims to the whole world that there is no systemic corruption in Ukraine, he must prove that this is true. Sennychenko did not rob Centrenergo, the UMCC and the OPP alone – some officials helped him, while others simply turned a blind eye to corruption. This raises the question: did the current Minister of Energy Galushchenko not know about the state of affairs at the enterprises under his department? It is hard to believe, because at the height of the war, his ministry was directly involved in the sale of state-owned coal to private companies at reduced prices, which caused a shortage of fuel at the state-owned Centrenergo thermal power plants. The Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry also “does not notice” the large-scale sale of coal from state-owned mines “to the left”, bypassing metering.

This is known not only to journalists but also to the SBU. The Service opened a criminal investigation into the sale of state-owned coal to private companies and searched the home of the advisor to Energy Minister Nemchinov, who was responsible for the scheme. But the case was immediately stalled. “According to our information, the deathly silence of Bankova Street and the KGB officers under its control is due to the fact that this is not a story of fighting corruption, but a struggle between different groups of influence around Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko,” ZN.UA wrote. That is, there are more influential participants in the schemes above Galushchenko and Nemchinov, who cover them at the highest level.

The media write that the coal market has been taken over by the head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia, and his business partner, MP Maksym Yefimov. Much has also been written about the interests in the energy sector of Rostyslav Shurma, deputy head of the OP. These are very big fish by today’s standards, and this explains the fact that law enforcement is “silent”.

Galushchenko is likely to be fired soon, as there has been talk of this for months. But if he is dismissed as quietly as Sennichenko was, it is unlikely that anything will change. He will be replaced by the same “blind” minister who will be paid a share of the schemes, and he will talk about reform strategies for 30 years ahead. And only in a couple of years, the NABU will wake up and announce a suspicion – you see, they stole coal during the war, scoundrels! No way! And while this tumultuous activity will be fed to the public as an example of the fight against corruption, the ex-minister will be basking on a beach somewhere abroad.

If Ukraine is really fighting corruption, an illustrative NABU video about the schemes at Centrenergo, Ukrvuhillya, and state mines is needed now. It is now that we need to explain to the public why private mines in Donbas have 75-100% higher average daily production than state mines. Why is labour productivity almost 6 times higher and production costs 3-10 times lower? Why are state-owned mines being visited by Kamaz trucks that take coal to an unknown destination? Why does Ukrenergo need to allocate UAH 2.5 billion for the purchase of coal? Why does Centrenergo have a debt of UAH 3 billion to Naftogaz?

If Ukraine is really fighting corruption, detectives should come to the homes of the minister, his corrupt deputies, and heads of state-owned enterprises tomorrow and handcuff them. The case files have already been written, they are in the SBU safes. And then we’ll see if these defendants want to testify against their handlers. This will be the case if the SBU becomes interested in Arakhamia or Shurma. Only when investigators come to such figures can we say that Ukraine is really fighting corruption systematically and seriously.

About the author: Louise Roth

Louise Roth is the youngest member of WeeklyNewsReview team. Despite the young age Louise is interested in serious topics. Her main interests and education is all about economics and politics. But in our team she is the most productive do-it-all member, so she has to write on a variety of topics.

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