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5 defendants in 'Onyschenko gas case' sign plea bargains, 2 agreements annulled

5 defendants in 'Onyschenko gas case' sign plea bargains, 2 agreements annulledTwo out of three agreements between public joint-stock company Ukrgazvydobuvannia and two firms participated in the 'Onyschenko gas case' (Nadra Geocenter LLC and KhAS Firm LLC) have been annulled, and five defendants in this 'gas case' signed plea bargains, the press service of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has reported.

"As of late August two out three agreements on joint investment and production operations between public joint-stock company Ukrgazvydobuvannia and two firms participated in the so-called ''Onyschenko gas deal' - Nadra Geocenter LLC and KhAS Firm LLC – were annulled thanks to the ctive work of NABU detectives and SAP [Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine] prosecutors. According to the agreements, natural gas at fake auctions was sold at low prices to intermediaries, who resold it to industrial consumers at market prices," the press service of NABU reported on Thursday.

Thanks to effective work of NABU detectives and SAP prosecutors, give defendants in the 'Onyschenko gas case' pleaded guilty and signed a plea bargain with investigators. Among them are director of Lvivska Universalna exchange, director of the Center commodity exchange and a broker of one of the exchanges that organized fake auctions to sell gas in favor of firms under control of MP Oleksandr Onyschenko. The curator and a person responsible for the creation of shell companies, who were involved in rechanneling of funds received from the resale of gas, also signed the plea bargains.

NABU Director Artem Sytnyk said that the NABU's task is not only to solve a crime, punish persons guilty in committing it and eliminated the corrupt schemes, but also to return seized funds to the state. The perfect example of work of the newly created anti-corruption agencies – NABU and SAP – is revealing and destroying the so-called 'Onyschenko gas scam', he said.

He said that NABU is trying to actively use the modern plea bargain tool in those cases where Ukrainian law permits to do this.

On June 15, the NABU and SAP exposed organizers of a scheme to steal money from natural gas production and sales under cooperation contracts with Ukrgazvydobuvannia, which resulted in around UAH 3 billion in damage to the state. On July 5, Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada agreed to the prosecution, apprehension and arrest of its member Onyschenko, the chief suspect in the scam.

On July 27, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko signed a notice of suspicion to Onyschenko who had left Ukraine, having taken advantage of his parliamentary immunity. On July 29, Onyschenko said he was in London, applying for a residence permit and asking for political asylum from the British authorities.

A total of 12 suspects have been detained in the case. The pretrial investigation is underway.
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