(Kyiv, April 10, 2023) Today the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) searched the offices of Smart-Holding Group and the business premises of Smart Energy under a criminal case which is completely groundless and is yet another attempt to exert pressure on a socially responsible and economically important business during wartime.
Smart-Holding, as a Ukrainian company and a leading Ukrainian gas producer, believes that such systematic actions from law enforcement agencies under this and other proceedings are destructive. Their sole purpose is to block assets in the interests of certain groups. The search warrant does not contain any specific facts or substantiated legal grounds. Moreover, the case was filed based on a statement from a private company owned by an individual who is in a long-term corporate conflict with Smart-Holding which has nothing to do with the stated reasons for the investigation.
This is the latest in a long line of attempts to influence our business through various legal proceedings. Attempts to unduly influence our business have been made for a long time, and the beginning of the war was followed by a more active phase of interference. Most of the proceedings have been dismissed or remain without respective court decisions. However, new lawsuits and statements keep appearing, and the more of them we see, the less meaningful the accusations are.
The main object of pressure is the Group’s gas producing asset, Smart Energy, which continues to support Ukraine’s energy security during the war. Some examples of baseless accusations against Smart Energy include:
- Unlawful accrual of additional payables and reduction of budgetary refunding.
- Repeated attempts to terminate the validity of special permits for the use of subsoil.
- In October 2022, another criminal case was filed against Ukrgazvydobutok PJSC and Smart Energy LLC, allegedly related to the accumulation of gas in Ukrainian storage facilities in the interests of the aggressor country with the aim of selling it at market prices instead of distributing it on the commodity exchange in amounts defined by regulators.
- The SSU launched investigative actions into possible tax evasion by Ukrgazvydobutok PJSC in the amount of UAH 530 million, which is not subject to tax control.
The result is a counterproductive and pointless fight against a transparent and law abiding business that operates on the economic front, ensures the energy security of the country and consistently helps those who are fighting for our victory. In fact, under the guise of the messages and statements about national security, there is a process of redistribution of property in favour of certain interest groups that is taking place with the active support of law enforcement agencies.
Julia Kiryanova, CEO of Smart-Holding, said:
“Since the beginning of the war, we have felt a noticeable increase in pressure from law enforcement agencies on our businesses based on fictitious or fabricated grounds. Where is the connection between the next baseless statement by the fraudster who is a former partner and whom we have been pursuing in court for his criminal offences for eight years, and the accusations against Smart Holding of “destructive activities”, “financing of persons connected with the Russian centre of influence”, and searches of our gas producing business? I will give you the answer. There is no connection.”
“Our gas production business is a key business that keeps many other businesses afloat in order to save jobs and support production. It has donated more than USD 6 million to support military and humanitarian programs. Why are searches not carried out at Kherson Shipyard, which suffered from the occupation? Why are they not conducted in other businesses of the Group? Because these assets are not of commercial interest. It is shameful to see such an attitude towards a domestic business which holds on with all its strength during wartime conditions and supports our country in its hour of need. And we are not alone. There is almost no business left in the country that does not feel systematic and arbitrary pressure from law enforcement agencies on trumped-up grounds.”
“However, despite these baseless proceedings, I am sure that there is justice, and the business community and foreign partners should hear the voice of business. We will stand to the end in the face of those who commit illegal actions, because truth is on our side, on the side of those who bring victory closer every day.”
It should also be remembered that Smart-Holding investment group is a group of companies that includes legal entities operating in Ukraine for the development and rebuilding of the country. Smart Holding Group is 2,500 jobs, UAH 8.83 billion in taxes to the budget of Ukraine for 2022, USD 39 million in aid, which brings Ukraine’s victory closer.