Former Ukrainian governor accuses authorities of abuse of power

Former Central Bank of Ukraine Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko has accused two of the country’s anti-corruption agencies of preventing his lawyers from adequately representing him in court.

A court in Kyiv issued a warrant to place Shevchenko in protective custody after a November 9 hearing. The Office of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor of Ukraine, SAPrequested the warrant for Shevchenko, who currently lives in an undisclosed Western European country.

After the decision, the Ukrainian government’s news agency, Ukrinform, issued a press release announcing that Shevchenko had been “placed on the international wanted list”.

SAP and Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or Nabu, are investigating allegations that Shevchenko embezzled funds when he was chairman of state-owned bank Ukrgazbank. The agencies say the alleged wrongdoing happened around three years ago, before Shevchenko became NBU governor.

But Shevchenko said the prosecutor didn’t tell his lawyer about the legal proceedings until late the previous night. Then the prosecutor had sent 5,000 pages of files to the lawyer, he said in a statement on Facebook.

That was not enough time to prepare for the hearing, which started at 8:30 a.m., he said. Timely filing of documents with the defense is mandatory, and failure to do so should have invalidated the prosecutor’s request, Shevchenko said. But he said the court ignored his lawyer’s arguments on this point and ruled in favor of the prosecutor.

The ex-governor said he needed to bring the matter to light to avoid what he called an abuse of power by the authorities. He accused NABU and SAP to “make the next catchy headline,

Shevchenko strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying the investigation into him was politically motivated. He said on Facebook when the investigation was first reported that authorities had investigated the allegations and found them to be baseless several years prior.

He quit on October 4, saying it was for health reasons, and said he was in an undisclosed Western European country. Sources close to the NBU confirmed at central bank Shevchenko suffered from health problems.

When news of the investigation leaked to the media, Shevchenko said his health had been made worse by heavy political pressure on him. He said he did not want to publicize political intrigue as Ukraine resisted the Russian invasion.

After Shevchenko’s resignation, President Zelensky appointed Andriy Pyshny, former director of the Ukrainian State Savings Institution, to lead the NBU. The Ukrainian parliament confirmed Pyshny in the role soon after.

Shevchenko became central bank governor in July 2020 after his predecessor, Yakiv Smolii, was removed from office by Zelensky. Smolii and other senior central bank officials said they were targeted by politically influential individuals angry at the NBUthe reforms of Ukrainian banks.

SAP Told central bank in a written statement in Ukrainian that Shevchenko and two former Ukrgazbank colleagues were hiding abroad from the preliminary investigation. Shevchenko said he left Ukraine for treatment and cooperated with law enforcement.

The prosecutor’s office said Shevchenko’s lawyers did not provide him with information proving he was medically unable to attend the hearing. SAP said he asked the judge to set bail at a sum close to $1 million. The statement does not appear to address Shevchenko’s claim that his lawyers only received documents from the case of SAP hours before the hearing.

Referred Nabu central bank to a statement she made on October 10, accusing Shevchenko of embezzling money from Ukrgazbank. central bank asked Shevchenko to comment on the allegations against him.

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