The National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has refuted allegations by Master-Avia of blocking Kyiv Sikorsky Airport’s work during searches on June 14 and thus resulting in a threat to airplane passengers.
“Investigative actions by NABU agents on June 14, 2018, at the airport could not have caused an emergency. Allegations made by Master-Avia, the airport operator, that NABU blocked its work, making it impossible to prevent the incident with a Bravo airplane do not correspond to reality,” NABU’s press service said in a statement on July 11.
NABU confirmed its agents on June 14 conducted searches of administrative offices at the airport under a ruling by Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court, but said the premises were not involved in flight operations safety. NABU stressed airport technical staff and other employees of the company were not restricted in movement around the airport and fully performed their duties.
Only some of Master-Avia’s heads and one of the ultimate owners of this company, who NABU thinks could be involved in corrupt acts, were restricted in movement during the raids.
“Instead of taking a constructive approach, Master-Avia published a false statement, using the safety of passengers as an excuse,” NABU said. “We draw your attention to the fact that the company announced its version of the events almost a month after the accident, worrying that further investigations by NABO at the airport could lead to new accidents. The National Bureau emphasizes that such statements are unacceptable and can be perceived as a blatant manipulation,” NABU said.
As was reported, Master-Avia, the company which manages Kyiv International Airport named after Igor Sikorsky (Zhuliany), on July 11, issued a statement, accusing NABU of blocking the airport’s work on June 14 while conducting raids, which created a threat for passengers.
“The actions taken by NABU kept [airport workers] from preventing an accident that occurred with a plane of the Bravo airline carrying out an Antalya–Kyiv flight,” the company said on Facebook.
Master-Avia said administrative buildings and terminals of the airport were blocked by NABU agents carrying automatic weapons from 10:00 a.m. Kyiv time on June 14 until 5:00 a.m. Kyiv time on June 15. The agents prevented the heads of the airport from taking appropriate safety measures during a thunderstorm. The Bravo plane with 169 passengers and four tonnes of fuel overshot the runway during the storm and landed on its belly.
The statement says the airport’s managers has not disclosed details of an investigation into the incident before, but not it warns if law-enforcement agents again block the airport’s work, flights will be suspended.
Master-Avia said it owns terminals and an apron at the facility, while the take-off runway and airfield are on the balance sheets of municipally owned Kyiv International Airport.
Master-Avia said there was no reason for NABU agents to use force, since employees were ready to cooperate with them and provide the information they requested.
The Sudovy Reporter (“Judicial Reporter”) portal earlier wrote that NABU was investigating possible wrong doing and misuse of funds by Kyiv City Council officials involving the airport and Master-Avia. The criminal case was registered in March 2018 on the basis of a report by the State Audit Service on the results of an audit of municipally owned Kyiv International Airport in the period from January 1, 2014, to September 30, 2017.
According to the auditors, the rent was understated by Hr 22.5 million because of a wrongfully chosen rent rate; the municipal enterprise paid Hr 41.3 million in wages to employees who actually performed work for Master-Avia, and the airport also concluded an unprofitable debt restructuring agreement with Master-Avia. Also, the auditors established that the municipal enterprise had fallen short of Hr 41.6 million in payments from Master-Avia under a contract for refueling aircraft.