A new breed of organized criminal enterprise is swiftly rearing its ugly head in Ukraine, according to a preliminary report regarding organized crime and public corruption in that former Iron Curtain nation by the nonprofit, non-partisan Organized Crime Observatory (OCO) released in New York City on Tuesday.
The report, presented at a news conference at the United Nations, outlines the progress of international researchers in their assessment of the nation’s crime and corruption, ahead of a crucial European summit at Vilnius later this month in which an agreement may be signed granting the former Soviet state EU Associate status.
The OCO report assesses the current trends in Ukrainian criminality, observing that drug and human trafficking remain at a high level in the country, but new trends such as corporate raiding and fraud are increasingly common. The study will also focus on public corruption with an insight on local bureaucracies.
The biggest new challenges for law enforcement agencies are an increase in counterfeiting and cybercrime, both of which internationalize Ukraine’s criminal influence. The internationalization of corporate raiding is more hidden but still very present.
OCO President, Nicolas Giannakopoulos, commented that Ukraine has made great efforts to join and comply with European and international conventions to combat organized crime, corruption and other illegal activities but the road ahead is still challenging.
He told his colleagues:
“Europe has for some time regarded Ukraine as a hotbed for organized crime and corruption, and the high profile cases of former Prime Ministers Lazarenko and Tymoshenko certainly attest to the scale of crime in the country. Ukraine efforts shows some interesting progress against organized crime gangs, which is good news. Where more needs to be done, however, is in tacking the blight of corruption that impacts the lives of so many people in the country and the emerging risks posed by cybercrime and corporate raiding. This is where Europe could be doing more to help.”
OCO reports that one in two Ukrainians has fallen victim to internet scams, such as identity fraud and theft, with over two thousand fraud cases already reported. Corporate raiding, on the other side, often ends in western Courts.
Nicolas Giannakopoulos sees this trend as one in which the European Union can protect itself by working more closely with the country:
“European agencies could provide useful support for their colleagues in Ukraine. This would be good news for Ukrainians, but it would also help citizens across the EU too by preventing Ukrainian criminal activity spreading across the continent.”
The OCO’s comprehensive investigation and study on Ukraine will run through September 2014.