Ukraine Seizes Assets of Former Supreme Court Head Over Illegal Gift

Ukraine seizes ex-top judge's assets over illegal gift, highlighting anti-corruption efforts in the judiciary.

Rizwan Shah
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Ukraine Seizes Assets of Former Supreme Court Head Over Illegal Gift

Ukraine Seizes Assets of Former Supreme Court Head Over Illegal Gift

The State Executive Service of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine has seized all the property and accounts of Vsevolod Knyazev, the former head of the Supreme Court. This action was taken due to Knyazev's failure to comply with a court decision to confiscate an illegally received gift worth over 900,000 hryvnias (approximately $25,000).

In December 2023, Knyazev was found guilty of illegally accepting a gift in the form of renting a 133-square-meter apartment in an elite Kyiv neighborhood for just 1,000 hryvnias ($25) per month, a price significantly lower than the minimum market rent. Judges in Ukraine are prohibited from accepting gifts worth more than around $150.

The court ordered Knyazev to pay 906,600 hryvnias ($24,000), the monetary equivalent of the rent he would have paid at market price, as well as a fine of 2,550 hryvnias ($68). After Knyazev failed to pay, the Justice Ministry made the decision to seize his assets.

Why this matters: This case highlights the ongoing efforts to combat corruption within Ukraine's judiciary system. The seizure of assets from a former high-ranking official sends a strong message that illegal activities will not be tolerated, even among those in positions of power.

The State Executive Service has identified four units of real estate owned by Knyazev in Mykolaiv and the Mykolaiv region. Measures will be taken to foreclose on these properties in the absence of sufficient funds in Knyazev's seized bank accounts.

This is not the first time Knyazev has faced legal trouble. In May 2023, he was detained and dismissed from his position as head of the Supreme Court after being charged with accepting a $2.7 million bribe to rule in favor of a Ukrainian billionaire. The High Council of Justice in Ukraine has also opened a disciplinary case regarding Knyazev's conduct based on complaints received, including from the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, which initiated the illegal gift case.

Deputy Minister of Justice for the Executive Service, Andriy Haichenko, made the decision to seize Knyazev's property. The case serves as evidence of Ukraine's ongoing battle against corruption within its government institutions, particularly the judiciary. As the country continues to strive for greater transparency and accountability, holding high-ranking officials responsible for their actions is an essential step in the right direction.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukraine seized assets of ex-Supreme Court head Vsevolod Knyazev for illegal gift
  • Knyazev received 133-sq-m apartment in Kyiv for $25/month, violating gift limit
  • Court ordered Knyazev to pay $24,000, but he failed, leading to asset seizure
  • This is not Knyazev's first legal trouble, previously charged with $2.7M bribery
  • Asset seizure highlights Ukraine's efforts to combat corruption in the judiciary