Smart-Holding's Statement on Pressure Exerted on Business by Authorities


Investigators and prosecutors of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine are once again conducting searches at shipbuilding enterprises (Kherson, Nikolaev), in the head office of Smart-Holding (Kiev) and in employees’ apartments. This is the seventh search at the shipbuilding yards for the year. This time, it is made as part of a pre-trial investigation into alleged abuse of office by representatives of the State Property Fund of Ukraine (SPFU) and the Ministry of Industrial Policy when making amendments to the contract for the sale of shares in Chernomorsky Shipbuilding Yard (ChSY, Nikolaev), which is now part of the shipbuilding sub-holding company Smart Maritime Group (SMG), as well as into allegedly causing ChSY to become bankrupt. Now, the shipyard's shares, including those that were bought in the free market, are under arrest upon the petition of the Prosecutor General's Office. In the head office, investigative actions are conducted in relation to ChSY's debt in the amount of UAH 48 thousand (!)

We once again voice our protest against persistent searches. In such kind of investigative actions, which are prescribed by law only in extraordinary cases, we see unjustified pressure from the authorities, which use law enforcement in their own interests, on the business of the opposition politician Vadym Novynskyi.

The management and employees of Smart-Holding have never avoided giving any explanations to the law enforcement agencies; any documents that could help to find out the truth are provided to the investigation upon first request. We presented our position in relation to the aforementioned pre-trial investigation and arrest of shares in ChSY, where the state contract for the construction of a corvette class ship, Vladimir the Great, is being performed,, in Smart-Holding's statement of 14 July 2017 It is worth pointing out additionally that the PGO several times attempted to recognize the contract for purchase of ChSY's shares as invalid. The last time, on 16 September 2010, it was refused to satisfy unjustified demands of the prosecution office by the decision of the Kyiv Court of Appeal, which was never appealed.

Currently, the use of the special services and law enforcement agencies by the authorities in respect to the companies of Smart-Holding Group is considered as deliberate blocking of economic activity in order to cause maximum financial damage. We also have reason to believe that the shipbuilding assets of Smart-Holding fall within business interests of competitors who are now close to the current authorities. According to some available information, the first step was the seizure of 82 property items, which were acquired by SMG from the bankrupt enterprise Nikolaev Machine Building Plant (NMZ) at the open auction, and are now used in the production process of Nikolaev shipyard. The criminal proceedings with respect to the alleged misuse of NMZ’s property and securities, which took place in 2009, were initiated despite the fact that there are no victims and damage to state (or someone else's) interests under this case. Today's searches are the result of a petition by Andrey Vadaturskiy, an MP from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP) Solidarity, co-owner of Nibulon company (engaged in shipbuilding business, among other activities), which was submitted to the Prosecutor General's Office. Earlier, searches at SMG's enterprises were also made after the appeal of MP Oksana Bilozir to the PGO. These are coordinated actions by pro-authority MPs.

SMG team is ready to defend its rights by all legal methods and is preparing to give a fitting rebuff to such actions, which bear all the signs of raider attacks. The interests of more than 1,300 workers and employees of Ukraine's largest shipbuilding holding have been threatened. Direct damage is caused to the business reputation of companies, their cooperation with foreign counterparts and investors is disrupted.

A year ago, on 25 July 2016 the company sent an open letter to the Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasiliy Grytsak and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko. We publicly voiced our willingness to cooperate with pre-trial investigation bodies and to provide all necessary documents and information that were at our disposal and could facilitate an all-sided investigation of any other criminal case under the current legislation. Given our willingness to cooperate, we asked to apply methods of obtaining evidence that would not disrupt normal operation of our enterprises.

Any financial and industrial group is a "window of investment" in our country. Any unjustified pressure on business harms the well-established cooperation with international partners. We intend to protect our business reputation by all means and to appeal any illegal actions by law enforcement officers in relation to the Company, its employees and property.