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NABU Had No Right to Seek Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s Extradition, Prosecutor General’s Office Concludes

The Prosecutor General’s Office has followed the example of Interpol and denied an extradition request against the businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk, the reason being that NABU’s request does not conform to international and Ukrainian law, because the businessman’s whereabouts have been formally communicated to the investigation authorities

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The Prosecutor General’s Office has dismissed a request by NABU seeking extradition of the Ukrainian businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk. This was reported by the Kyiv Post with reference to documents obtained from sources within the law enforcement authorities and a commentary by the Prosecutor General’s Office. According to the document, the Prosecutor General’s Office refused to authorise Bakhmatyuk’s extradition because there weren’t sufficient grounds. The Prosecutor Generan’s Office confirmed that NABU’s request had been dismissed because it did not conform to the requirements of international law and violated the procedures established by Ukrainian law. 

‘The office returned the extradition request to NABU because we found it doesn’t meet the requirements of the international law, and violates the procedures established by the Ukrainian law, which can become an obstacle for an extradition of the suspect by a foreign country’, the Office of the Prosecutor General stated.

Just as in the case with NABU’s extradition request against Oleg Bakhmatyuk declined by Interpol, the reason for the dismissal was that the businessman’s whereabouts were known to NABU while Oleg Bakhmatyuk was not on the international wanted list. As of the start of the NABU investigation, the businessman was residing legally in Vienna and his lawyers had officially notified the investigation authorities of his whereabouts.  

According to a Facebook post by Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s lawyer, Tetiana Kozachenko, Oleg Bakhmatyuk is not on the international wanted list and his whereabouts are known to NABU and other investigative authorities. ‘Oleg Bakhmatyuk is not on the international wanted list. He’s not on any database. NABU, SAPO, Prosecutor General’s Office, HACCU all know Oleg’s address perfectly well. All official documents confirming that have been provided. NABU continues to sell the legend that Oleg Bakhmatyuk is on the international wanted list because this sounds better for them and gives their investigation an appearance of meaningfulness’, says the human rights activist. She indicates that NABU’s actions seeking Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s extradition and the ruling by the Appeals Chamber of the High Anticorruption Court of Ukraine ordering his arrest in absentia are being justified by an allegation that Mr Bakhmatyuk’s on the international wanted list, which is not true. Such actions are unlawful and contravene international treaties.

Oleg Bakhmatyuk stated in an interview that both Interpol and the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office were formally notified of his whereabouts but NABU had not asked him to testify under the official procedure while the other people implicated in the case, including the former acting governor of the NBU, Oleksandr Pysaruk and managers of VAB Bank had only been questioned once during the year-long investigation. ‘Do you know how many times the managers were questioned in one year? Once. Do you know how many times Pysaruk was? Once. How so? We let Interpol and Ukrainian prosecutor’s office know through the prosecutor’s office of Vienna that we were here. And I’m here officially under an international convention. This is my right as a citizen of Ukraine, as an individual. I’m prepared to testify. They were supposed to delegate their right to question me to the Austrian prosecution authorities’, stated the businessman.

The businessman also claimed that NABU’s case against him was masterminded by the former head of the President’s Office, Andriy Bohdan: ‘Bohdan had a cunning plan, to grab the whole company using ARMA [Ukraine Asset Recovery and Management Agency]. Dump all creditors and grab it. And then tear it to pieces. And then sell it for cents on the dollar. But common sense prevailed, thank God. Otherwise, Ukraine would have been dragged into international litigation’.

He also claims that NABU Director Artem Sytnyk has a personal motive to seek vengeance against the businessman, because an aide to Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s sister is a key witness in a case exposing Sytnyk’s corruption.  

Just as a reminder, the NABU case against Oleksandr Pysaruk and Oleg Bakhmatyuk concerns alleged misappropriation of a stabilisation loan extended by the National Bank to Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s VAB Bank. The National Bank has refuted those allegations by providing evidence that the entire refinancing proceeds of UAH 1.2 billion were used to make payouts to some 80 thousand depositors as the programme envisaged. This is confirmed by an audit conducted by the Deposit Guarantee Fund.

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