Oleksandr Klymenko Official website
Interview | 621 | 20.05.2014

Ex-Minister of Revenue and Duties Oleksandr Klymenko: “I do not have accounts and assets in Europe”

Former officials of Viktor Yanukovych’s team are recovering from the events of February, after which they had to urgently leave the country.

And some of them are eager to share their vision of the situation in Ukraine.

We were addressed by representatives of the ex-Minister of Revenue and Duties Oleksandr Klymenko with a proposal to do an interview in the form of our questions and his responses to them. Unfortunately, it was not possible to meet in person with the disgraced Minister, so he answered our questions via email. Here’s the result.

CONCERNING THE SITUATION IN THE EAST

– Like most of the previous government officials, you originally hail from the east – from Makeyevka. Therefore, immediate question to you, as a native of the region: what is happening on your “small motherland”?

– I think that this is primarily –  a protest. The referendum, that took place on May 11, of course, did not correspond the letter of the law. However, millions of people have expressed their dissatisfaction, their pain and fear for the future of their families in such a way. One cannot put everybody on the list of separatists indiscriminately. Disgruntled citizens and armed militants – are different people. And Kiev should pursue a very balanced and differentiated policy.

It is necessary to face citizens. Until now, administrative office was more worried about their own safety than about the people who are looking to be protected by the state.

Let’s take, for example, a topic of tax authority work, which is close to me. Ministry of Revenue has evacuated managerial staff in Donetsk region, as well as inspectorates of Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Konstantinovka. All is correct: manifestation of care about employees.

Even in the flash points entrepreneurs want to pay taxes. But how? Inspectorates are evacuated, banks are closed.

But where is the obvious next step – taking care of taxpayers? Even in the flash points entrepreneurs want to pay taxes. But how? Inspectorates are evacuated, banks are closed.

Business in the east demonstrates not even a civil consciousness, but patriotism of the highest standard! But this inspiration does not encounter response.

Let’s say, I, as a Minister, would have created temporary taxpayers servicing points in the flash points long ago. There are many organizational forms. Increase of number of staff in undisturbed cities and towns, establishment of new servers and communication lines, engagement of volunteers…

And, of course, special procedure of administration of the Law: fines for businessmen from flash points should be cancelled until stabilization of the situation.

– What, in your opinion, can assuage the southeast?

– If wife says that she leaves her husband and goes to another man, what a man should do? Put a gun to her head and force her to stay? Or to prove with his actions that it would be better for her to stay with him?

The government, in my opinion, should demonstrate to residents of volatile regions that it will be better for them in Ukraine. Such proposals were made in relation to the Crimea. But, unfortunately, this peace-loving rhetoric sounded after the fact. But there is still a chance in the east.

– How do you see the situation from abroad?

– Now, in fact, such thing that was once discovered by American psychologist Solomon Asch is happening. In his experiments he asked students to participate in a vision test. Out of 8 participants, there were seven “stool pigeons” and they were giving incorrect answers on purpose. And in this situation, those who know the truth and are giving correct answers, feel very uncomfortable. As a result, 75% of participants accept an erroneous opinion of the majority.

Reports of fighting, clashes are being constantly sounded. Most of such pieces of news are fake, but they help to preserve tension in the society.

When I watch newscasts on TV, it seems to me that such experiment is being set up on Ukraine. Reports of fighting, clashes are being constantly sounded. Most of such pieces of news are fake, but they help to preserve tension in the society.

ABOUT ACCUSATIONS IN UKRAINE

– SSU (Security Service of Ukraine) claims that you have funded disorders in Odessa. Do you have anything to say about it?

– I am outraged by such irresponsible and unsubstantiated statements. I categorically declare: I have not supported and I do not support any protest movement in Ukraine!

Like many other unsubstantiated charges against me, I will contest this in courts. My lawyers are already preparing a lawsuit for protection of honor and dignity. I will seek truth in Ukrainian courts, and, if needed, in international courts too.

– Odessa story – is not the only accusation against you. Prosecutor General’s Office, for example, claims that you have stolen 6 billion Hryvnia from the budget.

– Absurd. Figures are spinned out of thin air, evidence – is zero. My lawyers are trying to get access to the materials of the case, but they are being denied under false pretenses. I am ready to bear responsibility for each of my signatures as a Minister. I have been asking myself: bring in an indictment and your arguments, and I will fight my corner. But it seems like no one is interested in finding truth.

– The new government also says that at work you were not engaged in protection of state interests, but in creation of platforms for optimization of taxation. Some business representatives say the same thing.

– Then why tax revenues are not growing now, if I and, as they say, my platforms are not there anymore? Against the background of the struggle against “conversion sites” the average monthly collection of taxes to the budget remained almost at the same level, and total collections in the first quarter are even 4 billion hryvnia less than the last year. If I was bearing guilt for everything, then where is the money that I was allegedly withdrawing from taxation? Perhaps, one should already give the benefit of the doubt that Klymenko was collecting money into the budget and not into his own pocket?

– Nevertheless, the Ministry of Revenue and Duties does not exist anymore. The new government has said that it was needed only to legalize kickbacks. What will you say?

– Then the Department of Revenue and Duties in the UK (HM Revenue & Customs) is also established for bribes and kickbacks! Creating the Ministry, we have implemented the best European experience. Not for one person or group of people, but for the state

Yes, on the revolutionary wave one could make different reckless statements without understanding the essence. It is possible to destroy everything in one minute. It is much harder to build something new and really effective on the ruins. It is much more difficult.

Now I see that the government, having calmed down, decided to retain the system, but in the form of public service, and not Ministry. In my opinion, rightly so. Call it whatever you want, if only it works.

– How much money have you taken with you abroad?

– How do you imagine that – with a suitcase full of money across the border? All my savings are on accounts in Ukraine, and they are now blocked.

– Are you afraid of EU sanctions?

– No. I don’t have accounts and assets in Europe.

– Are you planning to return to Ukraine?

I am wholeheartedly worried about what is happening in Ukraine. What is happening now  – is a personal tragedy for me.

– I really want to, but I cannot. I am not sure in safety, first of all, of my family. You can see for yourself – some absurd accusations on the verge of direct threats, pressure. I am wholeheartedly worried about what is happening in Ukraine. What is happening now  – is a personal tragedy for me.

ABOUT REFORMS

– What are you doing now?

– I continue to work. Together with the team of people who were working in the Ministry we are working through options of tax reforms in Ukraine, proposals of how the country can get on its feet after such a difficult period, we are thinking of how to help the country.

– They are promising a tax reform in Ukraine again. Is this correction of your mistakes?

– I admit that the work that we have begun is not completed – not enough time, many initiatives have hung in the air. And it definitely should be continued, especially now that the conditions for this are more comfortable than I have had – there is an “airbag” in the form of assistance from the IMF for the period until the reforms are carried out.

I incredulously assess the first steps of the government. Tax on deposits, increased excise taxes, expansion of the property tax payers. These measures wreak havoc on ordinary citizens, on small and medium businesses. At the same time, more than favorable conditions have been created for big business, or if you prefer, for the oligarchs. For example, the law on transfer pricing has been rescheduled for autumn, which has already led to an increase of imports through offshore up to 23% in April. Although at the beginning of the year this indicator was no more than 7%. And it means billions of hryvnia of profits not paid to the budget of Ukraine. So who the new tax policy is directed at?

We had a different plan. To abandon inefficient taxes, to further simplify document circulation and (tax) administering, to perform reduction of rates, primarily, on salary taxes. Here are those measures that are needed by Ukraine.

Link to source: Kp.ua

Photo: kp.ua

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