Ukraine Moves to Restore Jail Terms for Officials Hiding Assets

Ukraine moved to make officials who fail to fully declare their assets subject to prison terms -- a step that could help restart a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Custodial sentences for incomplete and false asset declarations were originally introduced in 2014 as an anti-corruption measure. But the Constitutional Court called the legislation “excessive” and struck it down in October, sparking public outrage and rattling Western donors.

Parliament on Thursday passed an initial bill to reinstate the threat of as long as two years in prison. Lawmakers in December restored only limited criminal liability for public employees. Group of Seven countries said at the time that it’s important “to ensure that penalties for false and unfiled asset declarations won’t be weakened and effectively deter corruption.”

With the coronavirus pandemic draining government resources, Ukraine is struggling to get its IMF aid package back on track. Other concerns include wider anti-graft efforts and central bank independence.

The asset-declaration legislation still needs to be approved in a final reading before it can be signed into law.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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