Ukraine approves long-awaited anti-corruption court bill
Ukraine's parliament voted on June 7 to approve the final reading of a bill creating an independent High Anti-Corruption Court in line with Western requirements. Drawing a supermajority of 315 MPs (out of 226 needed), the bill was a key condition for the IMF to provide its fifth loan tranche, estimated at up to USD 2 mln, under its four-year EFF program with Ukraine.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice commented the same day that the Fund has yet to study the document, stressing that key point is the process of selection of judges to the court. “It's important that the panel of independent experts … has a crucial role in verifying that applicants to the position of judge have the necessary qualifications,” he said.
At the same time, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which helped draft the law, welcomed the legislation's approval. "According to reports, the approved law meets the Venice Commission recommendations," said Commission President Gianni Buquicchio. He added, "this is an important step forward for Ukraine and Europe, and above all for the Ukrainian people, who suffered too long from the evil of corruption."
Recall, the IMF insisted on ensuring that a panel of international experts have the final authority in vetoing unfit candidates for the court's judges. In the adopted law, a compromise was reached in which the final authority will rest with a joint commission that consists of 16 Ukrainian members and six international experts, who will nominate candidates with a majority vote that must include three international experts.
Alexander Paraschiy: The law’s adoption is a real breakthrough in Ukraine's path to creating a full-cycle independent anti-corruption system, involving the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. However, there could be details in the bill that may prevent the creation of an efficient anti-corruption system, and this is why the IMF is very cautious in its comments on the legislation.
So far, we remain optimistic about the IMF staff determining the legislation to be acceptable. We also expect that the other remaining demands - a natural gas price hike and balanced budget - will be resolved on Ukraine’s way to pass the next IMF staff review and get up to a USD 2 bln tranche thissummer. Needless to say, the IMF’s approved tranche will significantly improve Ukraine’s sovereign debt sustainability for the next two years, as well as provide backing for the currency.