Ukrainian officials disclose their wealth in e-declarations

AP News
Posted: Oct 31, 2016 8:54 AM
Ukrainian officials disclose their wealth in e-declarations

MOSCOW (AP) — Tens of thousands of Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have disclosed their incomes and assets in a publicly available database for the first time.

Late Sunday was the deadline by which all Ukrainian officials were due to declare expensive possessions and assets held in their own and their families' names in what is commonly known in Ukraine as an e-declaration. Some Ukrainian politicians complained about filling in the elaborate forms for hours, and several lawmakers didn't meet the deadline.

President Petro Poroshenko, who ran a successful chocolate business before he was elected president in 2014, filed his declaration close to the deadline, revealing $26.3 million kept in bank accounts and holding ownership of 104 companies and charity funds. Poroshenko pledged to sell his chocolate factories when he was elected but he hasn't done so.

A number of Ukrainian officials declared keeping large amounts of cash at home. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said he kept the equivalent of $1.6 million in the local hryvnia currency at his house.

Among the most bizarre possessions declared by officials and lawmakers over the weekend are an Orthodox church, holy relics of an Orthodox Christian saint and a ticket to space on the world's prospective first commercial spaceship.

The data from the e-declaration have been posted on a searchable online database that has been available since early Monday. It has been lauded as a major step toward transparence in the corruption-ridden Ukraine.

Olexandra Ustinova, board member of Ukraine's grassroots Anti-Corruption Action Center, hailed the e-declarations as "a kind of new revolution for Ukraine," saying that the elaborate disclosure of luxury gifts and property should prompt investigations by the government's anti-corruption task force.

The e-declarations, which have been filed by more than 50,000 officials, were developed under the guidelines of the U.N. development agency UNDP.

"The international community, including the U.N., will be behind Ukraine in these next steps because the e-declaration is only the first step. What comes after is maybe even more difficult," UNDP's Ukraine director, Janthomas Hiemstra, told The Associated Press.