WikiInvestigation has announced Czech Republic Paper: officials who “forgot” to mention their Czech property assets in the declarations should start worrying

17.12.2019

WikiInvestigation has announced Czech Republic Paper: it is time to start worrying for officials who “forgot” to mention their Czech property assets in the declarations.

Civic detectives have conducted a large-scale crowdsourcing investigation on the WikiInvestigation platform within the framework of the project and checked a significant amount of extracts from the land register of Czech Republic. As a result, they have identified officials, deputies, directors of state-owned enterprises, judges, etc. who own assets in the Czech Republic but did not mention them in the declarations in accordance with the laws of Ukraine.

The amount of undeclared property assets owned by the Ukrainian officials in the Czech Republic is simply astounding.

Oleksandr Voloshyn, Central Coordinator of the WikiInvestigation project explained the methodology of this investigation and how the Czech Republic Paper was created.

As he pointed, the methodology of the investigation is both simple and unique and clearly shows the opportunities and benefits of the crowd that were used by the WikiInvestigation project in conducting numerous anti-corruption investigations.

“For example, one civic detective used his data analysis skills and helped to identify all Ukrainians that own property assets in the Czech Republic. Consequently, we received a Czech Republic Paper – a set of unique documents with no analogues in the history of investigative projects or investigative journalism, since this is a huge amount of information about owners of property assets in the Czech Republic.

Then, we attracted other civic detectives who analyzed the Czech Republic Paper for the presence of the Ukrainian officials. And we can say that the results really surprised us - we already had doubts about the integrity of the Ukrainian officials, but the received data proved the existence of a huge problem – it turns out that it is a common practice for the Ukrainian officials to “forget” declaring their foreign property,” said Voloshyn.

He also added that the results of the investigation are only the “tip of the iceberg”, since it shows information only about property owners in several cities of one country.

It is hard to imagine how many similar cases exist around the world. This case points out the need for international cooperation in the fight against corruption and the need for accessibility and the unification of the registers around the world. If every country made its registers convenient and open, absolutely all undeclared property could be found in just a week, ” stated Voloshyn.

Answering the question who is "a hero" of the investigation, famous for not declaring property assets in the Czech Republic, Voloshyn named several names. Among them you can find the judge who made the decision on one of the cases of Privatbank, a senior official of one of the main tax services of the country, a former Advisor to the Embassy of Ukraine, etc.

“We hope that our law enforcement officers with the assistance from the Czech law enforcement officers will demonstrate efficient work. Each confirmed case is a reason for imposing a large fine and depriving of the right to occupy a position ”, - summed up Voloshyn.

It all started with a single investigation conducted by a civic detective Oleksiy Zhyrenkov during second wave of the grant program of the WikiInvestigation project. However, the massive amount of data obtained by Zhyrenkov from open sources, as well as the amount of undeclared foreign property, caused the investigation to become large-scale. Consequently, it was joined by other civic detectives.

As was stated by Liudmyla Ievsieienko, WikiInvestigation Director, the journalists from other investigative project had already analyzed the assets of Ukrainian politicians and their relatives in the Czech Republic, but this investigation was conducted with a different methodology and focused only on famous names, despite the fact that the list is much more extensive.

And it again confirms, that a professional investigative journalist, even if he puts all his efforts, physically cannot process all the data that, at the same time, can be easily processed by a crowd via WikiInvestigation platform.

“Journalists usually analyze only legal entities and their assets, trying to find famous names of Ukrainian officials. However, WikiInvestigation`s investigation is much more extensive and complete, since the detectives checked the real property of natural persons. It is much harder to analyze such information as it is very complex. In addition, we focused not only on famous names, but also on all Ukrainian officials who did not declare their real property in the Czech Republic. Thus, civic detectives of WikiInvestigation did not miss any official who “forgot” to declare his Czech real estates.

Everybody would write about a famous politician who has a real estate in the Czech Republic, or the father of a famous politician who has such real estate, while WikiInvestigation checks everybody and finds, for example, the judge who made a decision in the Privatbank case and suddenly became the owner of the property in  Karlovy Vary. We are not only limited to well-known names, but we check everyone. In fact, we show the fact of corruption crime - not declaring a real property. With this investigation, WikiInvestigation proved once again that what is physically unrealistic for professional investigative journalists can be done with the help of the crowd, the possibilities of which are endless,” stated Liudmyla Ievsieienko.

Currently, all the documents are publicly available on the crowdsourcing investigation platform https://wikiinvestigation.org/. Except Ukrainian officials, there are many other officials from  post-soviet countries in the list.

The WikiInvestigation project is implemented by the Innovation and Development Foundation with the financial support of the European Union.

The WikiInvestigation platform is the first Ukrainian platform of crowdsourcing investigations, where anyone can publish an anti-corruption investigation, report corruption, or join an investigation.