IMF, World Bank Say Ukraine’s Anticorruption Efforts Threatened

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) say they are concerned about attacks on Ukrainian anticorruption institutions.

In a December 7 statement, IMF chief Christine Lagarde joined the United States and European Union to warn about threats to Ukraine’s efforts to reduce corruption.

“We are deeply concerned by recent events in Ukraine that could roll back progress that has been made in setting up independent institutions to tackle high-level corruption,” Lagarde said.

The IMF chief said recent actions by prosecutors in Ukraine could threaten the independence of Ukraine’s National Anticorruption Bureau (NABU), which was set up after the Euromaidan protests ousted Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

NABU said on November 30 that the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine illegally interfered with an undercover NABU operation aimed at identifying members of an organized criminal group in the State Migration Service.

Lagarde urged “Ukrainian authorities and parliament to safeguard the independence of NABU and SAPO,” Ukraine’s Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office.

In a separate statement, the World Bank’s office in Ukraine said attacks on NABU and on SAPO “threaten their ability to fight corruption and recover stolen assets.”

“It’s critical they have the legislative framework & resources to fulfil their mandate,” the World Bank statement said.

Undermining Public Trust

The World Bank and the IMF are among the largest financial contributors to a $40 billion bailout package given to Ukraine to bolster and reform its economy after a pro-Western government came to power following Yanukovych’s ouster and flight to Russia.

But billions of dollars in IMF loans have been delayed due to what is seen as backtracking on reform commitments, even as Kyiv attempts to become more closely integrated with the EU and increase foreign investment.

The U.S. State Department said on December 4 that concerns about Ukraine’s commitment to fight corruption were raised by actions that “appear to be part of an effort to undermine independent anticorruption institutions.”

Washington said the moves “undermine public trust and risk eroding international support for Ukraine.”

The EU said in a December 5 statement that “the fight against corruption is a key element in the development of EU-Ukraine relations, upon which the success of other reforms rests.”

“Ukrainian authorities have to reinforce their efforts to ensure the independence, operational capacity, and full effectiveness of the anticorruption institutions,” the EU said.

With reporting by Reuters

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