Kostiantyn Kulyk: From money laundering to Prosecutor General’s Office

Kostiantyn Kulyk:  From money laundering to Prosecutor General’s Office

Resignation of the odious and corrupt chief military prosecutor of Ukraine, Anatolii Matios, and the subsequent appointment of Viktor Chumak, had no effect on the ways one of the dirtiest institutions of post-Maidan Ukraine operates. The new werewolves replaced the old thieves and extortionists, and took up the same craft.

Some of the old staff managed to retain their positions both at the Military Prosecutor’s Office and at Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPGU), becoming the living legends of “glorious” traditions of this dark department.

Kostyantyn Kulyk – former military prosecutor of the ATO forces, current deputy head of the International Legal Cooperation Department (ILCD) of the OPGU – a prominent representative of the clan-corruption system that has enveloped all of Ukraine. He has been at the center of Ukraine’s corruption news coverage for last few years. The unsinkable hereditary prosecutor relied on extensive connections and bribery to open doors on his career path, while accumulating significant fortune.

Even during the investigation of his possible illegal enrichment, he officially earned 1.24 million hryvnias in the Prosecutor’s office.

The case against prosecutor Kulyk was opened in December 2015 on suspicion of illegal enrichment, and he was charged in October 2016. The trial is still ongoing. According to Kulyk’s declaration, he earned an income of 479,450 hryvnias during 2016 on the position of military prosecutor. Later, the prosecutor general of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, transferred Kulyk to the ILCD of the OPGU, despite the criminal charges against him.

Last year, the prosecutor earned 648,466 hryvnias at his new position. In February of the current year, Kostyantyn Kulyk declared additional 112,478 hryvnias of income.

According to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Kulyk has earned more than 1.67 million hryvnias from 2011 to 2015, while serving in the prosecution authorities. During that same period, Kulyk’s expenses exceeded his income by 2.6 million hryvnias, NABU reports.

The undeclared part of Kulyk’s life is even more interesting. There is very little publically available information about this fascinating character prior to 2015, not even biographical facts. According to Ukrainian media, Kulyk got his position with the ATO Military Prosecutor’s Office due to the joint efforts of Viktor Shokin and Anatolii Matios. Viktor Shokin – the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine – signed the order to create the Military Prosecutor’s Office in the ATO zone, and Anatolii Matios – former chief military prosecutor of Ukraine – recommended Kulyk as a highly professional military man. Matios also claimed that Kostyantyn spent a year in the ATO zone, as the head of the Military Prosecutor’s Office. Turns out, Kulyk had nothing do with military service, as he never actually served, anywhere. Moreover, before this miraculous appointment, he was the prosecutor for Supervision of the Compliance with the Law in the transport sector of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Kyiv region, and before that, in Mykolayiv region.

What is most interesting though, is that as soon as Matios gets his appointment, Kulyk becomes the “Colonel of Justice.” As it turns out, Matios is Kulyk’s family friend, who was friends Kostyantyn’s father, Henadii Kulyk – former prosecutor of the Kharkiv garrison. In the early 2000s, Kulyk Jr., was engaged in some interesting and useful business of covering up money laundering schemes in Kharkiv.

The love for financial fraud is eternal. Thus, in 2013 Kulyk put up his apartment in Kyiv as collateral on a 15 million hryvnias loan, taken out from FinBank, which seems to have simply disappeared afterwards. Then, he used fake documents to take the apartment out of the registry of collateral property and sold it. Thus, the loan money was cashed out through front companies, the main collateral property was sold, and then bought out.

A small amount of $700,000 that appeared in the account of the future military prosecutor in the end of May 2014 could be considered evidential of this scam. It was later transferred as a loan to Ms. Tisovskaya, an employee of the Bank Khreschatyk. By the way, Kulyk’s apartment in Kharkiv was arrested under this investigation in 2014. He tried to get the arrest off in court, but failed.

Before getting appointed for the position of military prosecutor, Kostyantyn wanted to become an anti-corruption prosecutor. He applied for this position, but did not win the competition. Kulyk then filed 3 lawsuits in the hopes of getting the right judge on his case. When such judge was found, the other two lawsuits were dropped.

As a result, Kulyk got a resolution, repealing the decision of the competition committee for the selection of candidates for the administrative positions in the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. This decision called into question the results of the competition and creation of NABU as such, but Kulyk’s competitors managed to hush up the matter.

Then Kulyk started to look for a place in Military Prosecutor’s Office, with the “family friend”, Matios.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office in the ATO zone, which he was the head of, was supposed to control the rule of law occupied territories of L/DNR. Kulyk, however, preferred to maintain the rule of law in Donbass from the comfort and safety of his home in Kyiv or his parents’ home in Kharkiv. He did occasionally go on business trips though, which pay 3 thousand in 5 days.

During the initial stages of the war, looting was the main income of Ukrainian military. When the front stabilized, and the occupied land was already plundered, the business faded somewhat. So in the place of racketeering of the local entrepreneurs and peasants, came the smuggling and requisitions at checkpoints.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office completely controls the movement of goods and people across territories. Moreover, in the Donbass territories under Ukraine’s control, the drug and arms trade is flourishing.

It is common knowledge that 50 to 150 thousand hryvnias are paid at checkpoints for the passing of one truck with illegal cargo. Whether to pay attention to this nuisance or turn a blind eye – the Military Prosecutor’s Office in the person of Kostyantyn Kulyk, decided independently.

At the height of Kulyk’s military prosecutor activities, NABU started an investigation on suspicion of illegal enrichment against him. The basis for this was not the purification of the ranks, however, but a conflict of interests. 

According to the NABU representative, Maksym Hryshchuk, Kulyk earned less in five years than he spent in the last 18 months, including on the purchase of the luxury real estate in the center of Kyiv, and expensive cars for his civil wife and mother. Let us do the math. Military prosecutor’s salary for 5 years was 1 million 600 thousand hryvnias. Over the past 18 months he bought property worth 3 million hryvnias. Simple calculations let us conclude that his expenses are 30 times higher than income.

Back in December 2015, the Pechersk district court issued a permission to access documents for Kulyk and his family’s property, but it took the investigators another 6 months to get around to it.

Finally, on July 29, 2016, a search was held at the home of the ATO prosecutor. Pursuant to the search, the investigators tried to serve Kulyk with the notice of suspicion of illegal enrichment, but he locked himself in his home and refused to come out. A series of interrogations followed. The interrogation of Semenchenko, for example, caused the issuing of a sensational statement – it turned out that Semenchenko was also collecting dirt on Kulyk, but for some reason did not use it before.

On July 1, 2016, the NABU detectives did find Kostyantyn Kulyk, served him with the suspicion and put him under round-the-clock house arrest. On July 4, the court removed Kulyk from his position as military prosecutor, but on July 13, the Kyiv Court of Appeal reinstated him.

During this week, incriminating recordings of phone conversations between Kulyk and “a person with extensive connections in law enforcement” surfaced. The disgraced prosecutor addressed this person as “Yakovlevych” and asked for help.

Kulyk was probably talking to Ievhen Feldsher, experts say. He was an advisor of the former head of the Ministry of Ecology and the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, and a shady fixer.

It seems that Kulyk will get out of the water dry yet again, safely surviving the rotation of power in Ukraine, including the change of head of the Prosecutor General Office.

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