Ex-customs chief Nefyodov sounds off on customs corruption

17 April, 06:45 PM
Maksym Nefyodov believes that heads of regional customs pay several hundred thousand dollars for the position (Photo:Державна митна служба України via Facebook)

Maksym Nefyodov believes that heads of regional customs pay several hundred thousand dollars for the position (Photo:Державна митна служба України via Facebook)

Former customs office head and current member of Kyiv City Council, Maksym Nefyodov, explained the “rules of the game” for top customs officials, who have been replacing each other for the past three years, in an interview with Radio NV on April 17. 

“If I’m not mistaken, there have been seven managers in a row at the customs office in the past three years,” he said.

“To be honest, it doesn’t even make sense to count the number of different acting managers in the regions, it’s in the hundreds.”

According to Nefyodov, most customs officials “are aware of the rules of the game very well.”

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“Who appoints them, how much they pay for the position, why they come there — during the few months since taking the post, (their task is) to make this money, flee to Dubai, and (they) probably do not plan to ever return to Ukraine,” he said.

The official complained that under the current system, “absolutely any customs officer has no illusions about how their organization will work, what pressure will come from politicians, from the SBU security service, and those who formally and informally approve all appointments,” so it is naive to expect that they will do anything for the state.

“Most of the personnel appointments are now not approved by the head of the customs office,” he said.

“Customs is constantly, always influenced by top politicians... Now, most likely, is the time when the political leadership of the customs is decentralized. That is, different groups of people, regional politicians, lawmakers, or high-ranking officials have influence (or informally, supervision) on different regional customs offices,” he explained.

Taking into account the property of the recently dismissed acting head of the customs office, Ruslan Cherkasskyi, the position of a regional head is worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, which this head later “makes off due to smuggling,” he explained.

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers dismissed Cherkasskyi on March 24.

Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak called him one of the symbols of corruption, saying that Cherkasskyi had been “hiding” on sick leave for two months before his dismissal.

The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) found $150,000 on Cherkasskyi on March 17, allegedly given to him by his retired father.

During surveillance, the NACP discovered that the income of Cherkasskyi’s parents could not allow them making such a gift to their son. In addition, Cherkasskyi’s father had bought an apartment in Kyiv in 2018 worth over UAH 1.8 million ($49,223) and a parking space worth UAH 100,000 ($2,735).

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