Anti-graft court finds charges against former Naftogaz head unfounded

31 January, 06:35 PM
Andriy Kobolev (Photo:Нафтогаз)

Andriy Kobolev (Photo:Нафтогаз)

The High Anti-Corruption Court has ruled that the charges against former Naftogaz CEO Oleksiy Kobolyev in a case on the alleged misappropriation of a bonus are unfounded, lawyer Oleksiy Nosov reported on Facebook on Jan. 31.

The document says that in accordance with the ruling to refuse to impose a pre-trial restriction, the court did not establish any risks of obstructing criminal proceedings, as all the risks listed by the prosecutor had been nullified by Kobolyev's voluntary return to Ukraine.

The High Anti-Corruption Court also found that the Naftogaz Supervisory Board had consciously made the decision to award the bonus and was not subject to pressure from the official.

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The court also noted that during the five years of investigation in the case, members of the Supervisory Board, including its chairman, were never questioned.

In addition, the judge declared as manipulative the statement that most members of the supervisory board are foreigners and therefore do not have knowledge of Ukrainian legislation.

The judge found these statements to be contrary to the idea of corporate governance in joint-stock companies, and discredited the role of international experts in supervisory and controlling bodies.

Besides, the restrictions on the procedure for setting bonuses by authorized entities did not apply to Kobolyev's actions at Naftogaz, the judge found.

"This resolution regulates restrictions on the procedure for setting bonuses by authorized entities, but not the procedure for initiating such bonuses by other persons," Nosov explained.

“And since setting the bonus amount for the Chairman of the Board falls within the exclusive competence of the Supervisory Board, there was no violation of the requirements of the resolution.”

As for setting the amount of the bonus, the judge found that it was the exclusive competence of the company's supervisory board.

"The court did not establish that Andriy Kobolyev had the authority to influence the decision-making on setting the amount of his remuneration," the attorney said.

The Prosecutor's Office has already filed an appeal against the High Anti-Corruption Court decision. The appeal will be considered by the High Anti-Corruption Court Appeals Chamber, which will make the final decision on the election of a pre-trial restriction.

On Jan. 19, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office charged Kobolyev with the abuse of his official position to arrange for a payment of bonuses worth more than UAH 229 million ($6.2 million) back in 2018.

The prosecutor requested that Kobolyev be held in custody with an alternative bail of UAH 365 million ($9.9 million). However, the court decided to leave him free.

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