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Anti-corruption authorities in Ukraine have nabbed two lawyers in Kyiv on receiving $100,000 in bribes for promising to influence a court decision in one of the lawsuits through Pavlo Vovk, chief judge of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv.
Anti-graft operatives have confirmed that in a sting raid on April 6, they exposed two lawyers on extorting and receiving US$100,000 in the illegal benefit. According to media reports, one of them is Yuriy Zontov, brother of a high-profile judge Pavlo Vovk, who is being tried by the High Anti-Corruption Court, while formally remaining in office.
The funds in question were supposed to be handed over as a bribe for a ruling in the case heard by the District Administrative Court of Kyiv (OASK).
Read also Zelensky seeks to curb controversial court's powers One of the lawyers has been detained, the brief report notes, adding that the issue of apprehending the other lawyer in question is being decided.
"NABU detectives are conducting searches in the court premises and at the place of residence of both lawyers. One of them is a close relative of an OASK chairman. At the moment, this is all information we can disclose," the NABU noted, citing probe secrecy.
Case targeting District Administrative Court of Kyiv (OASK) and Judge Vovk
On July 17, 2020, searches were carried out at the OASK premises, as well as in the State Judicial Administration. NABU detectives charged OASK Chairman Pavlo Vovk, his deputy Yevhen Ablov, five OASK judges, and the head of the State Judicial Administration Zenoviy Kholodnyuk with setting up a criminal organization aimed to seize power.
According to the Special Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office, 11 persons led by Vovk acted as part of the criminal organization that aimed to seize state power by establishing control over the High Qualification Commission of Judges and the High Council of Justice, as well as hindering their work. Also, NABU made public the purported recordings of wiretapped conversations between the said judges.
On September 1, the High Council of Justice refused to suspend Vovk from office.
On November 3, NABU put Vovk on the wanted list.
Vovk has already failed six times to report to the High Anti-Corruption Court hearing where bail is set to be considered. Judge Andriy Bitsyuk has warranted NABU to forcefully bring the suspect to court, while an apparent legal collision prevents NABU detectives from doing so as Judge Vovk enjoys judicial immunity.
On March 15, the HACC ruled to suspend hearings on the measure of restraint until the suspect is located.
On March 17, NABU completed the investigation into the OASK judges.
Translation: Yevgeny Matyushenko