Ukraine Detains Head of Supreme Court over Corruption Allegations

Published: 22 May 2023

Vsevolod Kniaziev UkraineDetained former President of the Ukrainian Supreme Court Vsevolod Kniaziev. (Photo: Ліпавський Дмитро Юрійович/Ukraine Supreme Court, Wikimedia, License)

By Vinicious Madureira

In an undercover operation, Ukrainian anti-corruption agents have detained the head of the country's highest court, who is suspected of accepting bribes worth approximately US$2.7 million, according to a statement by the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Within the country's Supreme Court, investigators uncovered a deceptive entity that operated under the name "Back Office" and presented itself as a legitimate law firm but actually served as a middleman between the court leadership and those seeking favorable court decisions in exchange for bribes, as stated by Oleksandr Klymenko, the head of the anti-corruption prosecution office.

While authorities did not explicitly mention the judge's name, it is known that Vsevolod Kniaziev holds the position of the head of the court.

The Council of Judges of Ukraine issued a statement expressing deep concern over the potential involvement of Supreme Court judges, who are expected to serve as role models for the country's judiciary, in corrupt activities.

Investigators believe that the scheme not only influenced the decisions of the Supreme Court but also had an impact on numerous other courts throughout the country.

Upon receiving information about a major bribery scheme within the judicial branch, authorities began investigating the connections between a businessman, the owner of the "Finance and Credit" financial group, and one of the lawyers from a law firm.

In at least one instance, a scheduled hearing on March 15 was allegedly postponed by mutual agreement between the lawyer and the head of the Supreme Court, who agreed to defer the action for two weeks to a month in favor of the businessman.

The businessman made several payments to the lawyer, and in early April, the full sum was collected and deposited in a bank vault for safekeeping.

On April 19, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the businessman. Subsequently, on May 1, the Justice provided instructions on how to distribute the money among certain members of the Supreme Court involved in making the favorable decision.

The first installment of the bribe was delivered on May 3, followed by the transfer of the second installment on May 15.

Further investigations are currently underway.