Justice ministry mulls new measures to hasten ill-begotten assets forfeiture
Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has expressed hope that with the arrival of Yuriy Lutsenko to the Prosecutor General's Office all schemes of returning assets removed illegally from Ukraine will be used, including a new mechanism designed by the Justice Ministry.
"Today we have a new prosecutor general. I am optimistic about how cases important to us, which are important for Ukraine and to Ukrainians, will be handled. Issues, such as the conviction of Yanukovych [former disgraced president Viktor Yanukovych] and his cronies, as well as the return of billions of [hryvnias] stolen funds will be handled. We today present one more mechanism that empowers the prosecutor general… to return funds stolen from the Ukrainian people," he said at a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday.
Petrenko said that Prosecutor General's Office for two years have been investigating several criminal cases involving Yanukovych and his relatives. According to international calculations, more than $20 billion were pilfered from the Ukrainian budget using various schemes.
Petrenko said new investigative tools include authorizing criminal proceedings in absentia and the introduction of a special confiscation procedure have helped so far to close the cases (against Yanukovych and his relatives).
First Deputy Justice Minister Anton Yanchuk said a measure is being discussed that would help law-enforcement agencies collect illegal assets before convictions are handed down in criminal court.
He said the proposals are being discussed by the Council of Europe. The essence of the funds collection procedure is a claim which the prosecutor general and first deputy prosecutor general can send to court. Nominal holders of the assets are to prove the sources of the funds.