• Vitaliy SERDYUK | AVER LEX

    Despite the willingness of the business community to maintain a dialog with the authorities, the situation we see is quite the opposite. The main trend of the past few years is a shifting focus of attention from qualitative investigations to the number of open proceedings and landmark cases that bring dividends to their initiators. Yet, being taken into custody under hastily “stitched together” criminal proceedings, which often do not even get to court, is still actively practiced.

    For the business community, the process of “asset redistribution”, which takes place under old raider schemes and with the participation of law-enforcement officers, can be named as the most common risk.

    It is worth remembering about the “undercover” competition between the Security Service, the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) which, for the business community, can result in several criminal proceedings under the facts of the same event due to the “creativity” these bodies show when qualifying unlawful acts.

    Another trend of this year is the active practice of fabricating criminal proceedings disguised as fighting against improper inducement (bribery). There are cases of accusation against “necessary” persons of obtaining/giving bribes only on the basis of testimony of two or three strangers who have allegedly handed over/taken a bribe. And later, after a detailed inspection, such persons turn out to be “agents”, whose permanent work is writing related applications and staging the handover of bribes. All this becomes possible due to lack of a proper procedure established in the Criminal Procedure Code as to oversight over the activities of law— enforcement, “uniformed” and investigative agencies.

    Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in pressure on judges to force them to adopt necessary judgments. The courts almost completely lost their independence, which was facilitated by several factors: initiation of criminal proceedings against judges before or after they passed judgments; re-attestation of judges, in which the decisive factor is not adherence to principles and professionalism of judges, but the so-called subjective concept of “good conscience”; liquidation/reorganization of district courts in Kyiv, which consider the majority of high-profile cases.

    All this contributes to the fact that complicated criminal cases involving a large number of defendants are still supported by law firms providing a comprehensive system-based form of protection. Tensions caused by constant gross violations of human rights by law-enforcement agencies and government officials, has led to greater involvement by international civil society advocacy groups. Moreover, participation of the latter contributes to elimination of systematic violations of the rights of lawyers and to a reduction in the number of fabricated cases brought against them.

Highly-specialized criminal defense boutique AVER LEX is the most renowned and dedicated force on the Ukrainian market in terms of scope and capacity. The firm stands out primarily for its track record in compound and complex WCC litigations with numerous parties and multiple stages. The firm is frequently credited for representing state officials, political figures within protection from politically motivated prosecutions, alongside high net worth individuals and big corporate clients, with involvement in domestic and multi-jurisdictional cases. The firm represents former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in a range of criminal proceedings, being in the epicenter of the most sophisticated and sensitive political case of impeachment for treason, assistance in operating a war of aggression and committing actions to change the state borders of Ukraine. In a recent highlight the firm showcased a robust caseload of fraud recovery matters backed by synergy of commercial litigation and criminal process. Other vivid areas of representation concerned corporate conflicts with elements of crimes, tax evasion, embezzlement allegations, corruption cases. The team is notably present in advising both the defense and prosecution sides. All the firm’s partners are involved in representation at all levels. Endorsed by a wealth of experience in criminal defense, Vitaliy Serdyuk is in front of the most challenging cases. Managing partner Olha Prosyanyuk combines recognized strength in commercial and white-collar crime litigation, and acts on business protection matters, protection of professional rights, reputation and dignity. Partners Igor Fedorenko and Artem Drozdov confirms involvement in significant WCC high stake matters. Bogdan Bilenko, attorney at law, has been very active this past year, and as a member of the defense team of Viktor Yanukovych acts in court hearings in this case. Andriana Fozekosh is another important team member.

Solodko & Partners is renowned boutique firm specializing in providing legal aid in the field of criminal law, including white-collar crime and particular focus on corruption crimes by politicians, government and business officials. Clients also encompass Ukrainian and international corporations, banks, mass media, public organizations, Internet companies. Most recently the firm had a rich practice of protecting representatives of the political sector and senior government officials. For example, resonant cases involving ex-Minister of Justice of Ukraine Oleksandr Lavrynovych, and Oleksandr Yefremov, who was a faction leader of the Party of Regions in the Ukrainian Parliament; Pavlo Grechkivsky, member of the Supreme Council of Justice. Evgeniy Solodko, senior partner, is named as being among the best Ukrainian lawyers in criminal law from year to year. Zlata Simonenko, executive director, was promoted to partner.

2017 was a very busy one for Ukrainian law firm EQUITY, which is known for its very well-equipped litigation practice. The firm strengthened white-collar crime team and expanded the circle of its established clients. Among the largest and most resonant projects of 2017 is representation in criminal proceedings of Mriya Agro Holding, where prosecution was instigated after the seizure of money, agricultural equipment and transport. The firm is also involved in a project to represent the interests of officials of the state-run Deposit Guarantee Fund in criminal proceedings on seizure of funds in especially large amounts by the owners of PJSC All-Ukrainian Development Bank for a total of USD 38 million. Partners Taras Poshyvanyuk and Vyacheslav Krahlevych acted on economic crimes matters, under the general guidance of Viktor Barsuk. The partnership was strengthened by admission of well-known experts in criminal law — Yaroslav Zeikan, renowned academician, and Olexandr Lysak, vivid practicing attorney.

White-collar crime is the core practice for VB PARTNERS. The firm regularly acts for shareholders and top management of banks, which were withdrawn from the market. The peculiarity of these cases is that it is necessary to work simultaneously in several jurisdictions. Another side of the practice is representing the interests of victims of corporate fraud and unscrupulous counterparties. The team also handled cases related to international criminal law, searches, removal from Interpol search, representation at the Commission for the Control of Files. The firm challenged the extradition of a citizen of the Russian Federation from Poland at the request of the Republic of Belarus. Partner Denys Bugay is head of the team. His track record includes successful defense of companies, owners and top managers, including those having the status of suspects in criminal proceedings: shareholders of Delta Bank, Premium, Classic, Khreschatyk Bank, ex top-managers of USB Bank, Mriya Agro Holding, Mykolayiv Alumina Plant and others. Oleksandr Lukyanenko, partner, is another key figure of the practice.

Vasil Kisil & Partners has one of the most long-established dispute resolution practices in Ukraine and demonstrates robust development of its white-collar crime work. The team has experience in representing prominent foreign and national companies and CEO’s before law-enforcement agencies and in courts. In one recent highlight the practice stands out for its notable presence in anti-corruption and embezzlement matters. The team’s caseload commands notable representation in tax evasion, negligence, forgery, etc. Dedicated partner Vitaliy Kasko, who joined the firm in March 2017, has considerable experience in public service and private practice. Andriy Stelmashchuk, managing partner, is another significant figure in this practice.

ARIO Law Firm reports on accompanying dozens of criminal proceedings, showcasing a number of resonant, politically motivated and significant for the Ukrainian legal market. The well-diversified practice includes defense in cases related to tax evasion and bankruptcy proceedings as well as extradition matters, abuse of power, fraud, embezzlement of public funds. The team currently represents Pavlo Hrytsak, executive producer of Eurovision 2017, in criminal proceedings terms  initiated again him; represents ex-director of the State Enterprise Ukrmedproektstroy suspected of abuse of power and misuse of public funds extended for construction of medical and diagnostic complex of the National Children’s Specialized Hospital Okhmatdyt and procurement of medical equipment. Another resonant case is representing opposition journalist and citizen of Kazakhstan, Zhanara Akhmetova, under a retrieval of Interpol. The practice is managed by partner Yevhen Hrushovets. Counsel Vladyslav Hryshchenko also specializes in defense in criminal cases.

Arzinger’s white collar-crime expertise involves provision of legal aid to companies with foreign investments, to its top-management as well as to private clients in criminal proceedings. The team often deals with cross-border cases, representing clients before international investigative bodies, including Interpol. The most recent practice is diverse, and includes cases related to extortion and misappropriation of property, fraud, theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, etc. Partner Kateryna Gupalo heads the white-collar crime practice, and is also noted for her tax litigation expertise.

The criminal law/white-collar crime practice of ESQUIRES, a young and highly dynamic law firm, ensures business protection in relationships with the state authorities and comprehensive representation from criminal prosecution. The recent experience of the team includes: protection in criminal proceedings of the interests of the largest logistics center in Ukraine; defense of the chairman of the tender committee in connection with the development and construction of the largest sports arena in Ukraine; protection of the head of the company — the largest importer of rubber in Ukraine — in connection with suspicion of committing a crime in the economic sphere; the protection of a doctor in a case of human organ trafficking for transplantation, which has become widely publicized in Ukraine. Tax evasion cases are vivid in the team’s caseload. Opanas Karlin is a lead partner, and spent a busy year in numerous representations.

GOLAW actively protects business from criminal prosecution and interference in economic activities. The firm provides services in developing a legal position in a criminal process and the strategy for its implementation, representing its corporate clients before law-enforcement agencies, providing the rights of the injured party in the criminal process at the stages of pre-trial investigation and court proceedings. The recognized strength of the team is corporate crime related investigations. The scope of expertise includes tax evasion, fraud, forgery, corruption and money-laundering. Partner Angelika Moisieieva (Sitsko) has vast practical experience of defending individuals in criminal prosecution. Counsel Igor Glushko heads the practice of criminal law and white-collar crime.

Ilyashev and Partners actively develops its criminal law and white-collar crime practice. The firm has experience in criminal proceedings on the fact of embezzlement of property by abuse of official position, as well as conducting independent financial investigations, particularly crimes committed by dishonest client management bodies. A benchmark multi-episode case is supporting litigation cases in Ukraine and abroad for compensation of losses caused as a result of fraudulent actions committed in a number of countries by the former Chairman of the Board of BTA Bank, Mukhtar Ablyazov. Given well-established positions in the bankruptcy area, the team often leads criminal proceedings within the framework of broad bankruptcy cases. Iryna Kuzina is one of the key criminal attorneys present in cases of abuse of power, inappropriate advantage, fraud, property damage. The sizeable team includes Galyna Lefor, Ivan Bozhko, Vasiliy Ocheret. Milkhail Ilyashev and Roman Marchenko are responsible partners.

S.T. Partners and both founding partners, Svitlana Trofymchuk and Sergiy Tyurin, are known for their involvement in criminal defense work. In 2017 Pavel Shtifonov, associate partner, headed the criminal law practice. Throughout the past year the firm accompanied about 50 criminal proceedings that included protection in connection with smuggling of drugs, abuse of power, gambling, extortion and banditry.

In 2017 the white-collar crime team of Sayenko Kharenko acted in more than 30 complex high-stake criminal cases. The dedicated practice is, in the main, focused on representation of multinational corporations, boards of directors and corporate executives, adapted to handle complex parallel proceedings involving simultaneous civil and criminal actions. In the diverse portfolio are fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, corruption, malfeasance, embezzlement, etc. The firm’s recent track record includes advising one of the large international FMCG companies on aspects of pre-trial investigation procedure and criminal responsibility for certain types of crimes. It also represented one of the largest industrial groups in Ukraine in criminal proceedings related to pre-trial investigation of the facts of possible counterparties’ actions on tax avoidance. The team included counsel Sergey Smirnov, associate Igor Voronov, and was led by dispute resolution partner Sergey Pogrebnoy.

Kharkiv-based Shkrebets & Partners renders services in wide range of criminal proceedings related to white-collar crime. In particular, the team provided protection of the officials of Kharkivoblenergo JSC in terms of pre-trial investigation. The firm often acts for municipal and state officials. The practice is led by partner Alexey Meniv.

Asters, a full-service national law firm, commands the white-collar crime practice including representation in criminal proceedings, conducting attorney’s investigations (including making attorney’s inquiries and collecting evidence to prove innocence of crime or facts allowing for release from penalty or its reduction), ensuring comprehensive protection regardless of procedural status at pre-trial and court stages. Last year the firm was involved in criminal proceedings related to purported tax evasion, illegal business activities, misappropriation of property. Senior associates Oleksandr Yakovenko and Oleksiy Ukolov are the primary practitioners. Managing partner Oleksiy Didkovskiy supervises the practice team.

2017 became a pivotal year for the white-collar crime practice of INTEGRITES. The new team, as headed by Volodymyr Rudnychenko, has been focused on defending the interests of victims of crime, being hired by big corporate clients and high-profile individuals. The practice works closely with the firm’s sizeable litigation team, and contributes to complex cases combining actions within the framework of criminal proceedings. The scope of team’s cases included forgery, fraud, misappropriation, obtaining undue benefits. In particular, the team handled a number of foreign legal entities purportedly aggrieved in Ukraine.

The white-collar crime team of Kinstellar showcases a substantial track record in handling projects featuring white-collar crime elements in Ukraine and abroad. The scope of practice includes criminal, internal and anti-bribery investigations, fraud, money laundering, bribery, theft. Kinstellar Kyiv represents a Ukrainian high net worth individual in connection with fraudulent misappropriation of assets committed by former business partners in a number of jurisdictions. Kostiantyn Likarchuk, managing partner, is the core contact.

Gramatskiy & Partners has two practices: business protection led by Oleksandr Koval, and criminal defense headed by Mykola Voitovich. The team acted in a total of 343 criminal proceedings at various stages and in different forms in 2017. The firm’s lawyers took part in 54 searches, 68 interrogations, prepared responses to more than 500 inquiries from investigative bodies.

Barristers attorneys-at-law is a new market player emerged from the amalgamation of Ponomarenko & Partners and Shevchuk & Partners. The core focus is criminal law defense, with good representation across regions of the country. The team included Aleksey Shevchuk, Denis Ponomarenko, Ilia Novikov, Kostiantyn Hloba, Nikolay Stoynov, Alexander Shadrin and others, known for participation in resonant public cases. Clients include political figures, state officials, businessmen facing criminal investigations as well as corporate clients.

Sokolovskiy & Partners regularly provides legal aid on criminal law. The team represents the interests of clients in criminal proceedings related to tax evasion, fictitious entrepreneurship, forgery by officials, misappropriation of property or occupation by abuse of official position, illegal acquisition, sale or use of special technical means of using information. Given the firm’s robust tax litigation track, a significant part of the criminal practice is the provision of effective defense in criminal proceedings on tax evasion. The practice is led by Tetiana Lysovets, senior partner.

Criminal law is a rapidly growing practice at International Legal Centre EUCON. This past year the dedicated specialists provided support in criminal proceedings arising out of official and economic activities. The firm is highly active in tax disputes that are accompanied by subsequent criminal matters. Significant public cases include defense of officials of Savik Shuster Studio in criminal proceedings on tax evasion and provision of legal aid in criminal proceedings against tax officials on the facts of alleged abuse of authority. Partner Yevgen Petrenko heads the practice.

Sklіarenko, Sydorenko & Partners has vast experience in criminal proceedings, mostly centered in white-collar crime. The team defended top managers of big companies in various criminal cases regarding tax evasion, bribery, fraud, and a fatal accident in construction. Partner Andriy Sydorenko is the core practitioner.

Eminent in tax, KM Partners also have profound experience in defending clients in criminal proceedings on tax evasion. The firm’s attorneys represented the officials of clients in dozens of proceedings, qualified as tax evasion as both pre-trial and court issues. Cases are supervised by partners Alexander Minin and Alexander Shemiatkin.

Alekseev, Boyarchukov & Partners acted in criminal proceedings related to protection of the rights and interests of clients, appealing against the arrest of property, protecting the rights of witnesses in interrogation processes. Igor Samoletov heads the criminal practice.

In 2017 Legal Alliance Company acted as legal counsel to one of the largest international pharmaceutical corporations in criminal proceedings, initiated in connection with allegedly illegal registration (re-registration) of a drug as a medicinal product. The team also represented the interests of an IT company in a criminal case involving unauthorized access to automated systems. Illya Kostin and Taras Bezpalyy are the key team members.

Vdovychen & Partners, as led by Oleg Vdovychen, was active in various criminal issues. The spectrum of current cases includes fraud, theft, tax evasion, appealing property arrests and in terms of attacks by raiders. The firm regularly renders legal aid during search and interrogations.

Baker McKenzie has been providing legal assistance to clients in complicated disputes, both in Ukraine and around the world, including representation before law-enforcement authorities in Ukraine in respect of various issues related to criminal proceedings. The firm is traditionally dedicated to anti-corruption compliance. Ihor Siusel is a lead partner.

The dispute resolution practice of the Kyiv office of DLA Piper was founded in October 2016, and has already gained a caseload in regulatory investigations, sanctions, fraud and white-collar crimes. Prestigious clients are, in the main, big international corporates. The firm has historically put emphasis on compliance and internal investigations. Olga Vorozhbyt, partner, heads the litigation and regulatory practice.

Odessa-based Jurline utilizes experience in protecting interests in the area of crimes against the life and health of a person, crimes against property, commercial crime, money laundering, as well as in the field of official activities. Volodymyr Zubar acts as lead partner.

The criminal law team at Pavlenko & Partners, one of the largest law firms in Lviv, is frequently instructed in high-profile criminal matters. The team recently represented the mayor of Lviv in criminal proceedings related to industrial park constructing. Ruslana Yukhymenko heads the practice.

The criminal law department of Lviv-based BK Partners provides services in criminal procedures including, representation of witnesses and defense, during pre-trial investigations in criminal procedures; representation of victims of crimes at the pre-trial investigation phase too. Valeria Kolomiets, lead partner, is known for participation in the resonant case of Mikheil Saakashvili, ex-governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Region.

Specialists of Lviv-based Advice Group provided protection for a local government body official in a criminal proceeding this past year. The firm also often acts for its corporate clients. Partner Oleh Kyryievskyi is head of the dispute resolution team. Managing partner Anton Podilchak is another contact.

Sheverdin & Partners, a Kharkiv-based local law firm, is experienced in criminal proceedings in connection with copyright infringement, as well as protection in criminal proceedings abroad on charges of copyright infringement and damage, and assisting the extradition procedure. Maksym Sheverdin heads the firm.

In 2017 ILF Law Firm is developing a new anti-corruption compliance and criminal defense practice. The niche appeared out of litigation, tax and medicine services, in connection with new requests: electronic declaration of incomes of chief physicians and officials, international control of activities of chief medical officer, healthcare officials, and participant of tender purchases. Olena Petrova is a practice head.

The experts of Juscutum Attorneys Association are focused, inter alia, on economic crimes. Dmytro Onuchenko, partner of business security practice and Kseniia Prokonova, partner of the conflict management practice, are the main contacts. Denys Ovcharov left the team and joined Lavrynovych & Partners.

In 2017 Attorneys’ Association Gestors, guided by partner Oleksandr Babich, provided defense in certain criminal proceedings against top managers of companies. The team has experience of representation in Interpol.

The practice of Natalia Vdovichenko, a new partner at Jurvneshservice, focuses on administrative and criminal cases relating to corruption offences, property crimes, and economic and service offences. The team consults and defends clients, including government officials and individuals seeking protection from politically motivated charges as well as corporate clients.

Dynasty Law Firm supported corporate clients in crime proceedings related to economic activities. In particular, the team appealed against the arrest of bank accounts and handled the return to a client of a number of real estate objects and vehicles that were under arrest. The practice is managed by partner Vyacheslav Kohlyakov.

ANK Law Office protects the interests of top managers and head of departments within criminal investigations. Raisa Shitikova is head of practice.

Suprema Lex acted in criminal proceedings on behalf of legal entities and individuals, and also renders analysis of economic activity for criminal law risks. Viktor Moroz, managing partner, is the main point of contact.

Sergiy Grebenyuk, a renowned criminal defense attorney, partner of EPAP Ukraine, enjoys the recognition of his peers on the market. He has a good reputation for representation in economic crime and corruption cases.