NABU chief tells of president’s reaction to top judge arrest

NABU chief tells of president’s reaction to top judge arrest

After the head of the Supreme Court was detained on bribery charges, President Volodymyr Zelensky called the director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau, asking to brief him on the case.

NABU Director Semen Kryvonos said this in an exclusive interview with Ukrinform.

"If we talk about my call with the President, it was after the head of the Supreme Court was detained and searches were underway at the Supreme Court headquarters. It was he who called me, asking as the head of state what was happening in the Supreme Court. I told the president that the head of the government’s judicial branch was detained for taking a bribe. This was the entire context of the conversation," Kniaziev said in the interview.

When asked what the president's reaction was, Kryvonos said that "he took a very calm and balanced approach to this," adding that he did not seem startled.

Read also: G7 names three priorities for judicial, anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine

"He asked what the essence of the case was. I say: this is about receiving a bribe. He goes: ‘Okay, I got you.’ There were no emotions involved – either negative or positive – nothing like that. It was a very reserved conversation," added the NABU director.

Kryvonos also said that the procedural actions within the inquiry targeting the head of the Supreme Court were being run without a court warrant as those searches were deemed urgent.

As reported, on May 15, the NABU and Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office said the investigation had exposed a $2.7 million corruption scheme involving leadership and a number of judges of Ukraine’s Supreme Court.

According to the probe, the bribe concerned the ruling handed down by the Great Chamber of the Supreme Court on April 19, 2023 in the case of recognizing as illegitimate the acquisition of a stake in the Poltava Mining and Processing Plant in 2002 by Ferrexpo, where one of shareholders is Kostyantyn Zhevago.

Zhevago's press service has denied his involvement in the bribe scheme.

On May 16, 140 judges of the Supreme Court at a plenary session supported the motion of no confidence in Kniazev. The judges also adopted a resolution on terminating his powers.

On May 17, the High Anti-Corruption Court overruled the complaint filed by Kniazev's defense team challenging his detention.

On May 18, the Supreme Council of Justice granted the motion of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office to remand Kniazev in custody. On the same day, the High Anti-Corruption Court ruled for custody remand with a UAH 107.3 bail option.

On May 31, the Appeals Chamber reduced Kniazev's bail to UAH 75 million.

On May 26, the plenum elected Stanislav Kravchenko as the new chief of the Supreme Court. Prior to that, he headed the Supreme Court’s Criminal Court of Cassation.

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