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Ario Law Firm secured an acquittal for the CEO of a state-owned enterprise

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Criminal Law and White Collar Crime

11 December 2023

The criminal law practice team at Ario Law Firm, led by partner Yevhen Hrushovets and senior lawyer Olga Koval, achieved a verdict of acquittal for their client in court. The client was accused of misappropriating a phone and tablet belonging to a state-owned enterprise through abuse of her official position. The appellate court upheld the decision of the trial court. The entire process, from the initiation of the case to the appellate ruling, spanned over 6 years.

The client, a former CEO of one of the state-owned enterprises, faced allegations under Part 2 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – appropriation, embezzlement, or seizure of another's property through abuse of official position.

Specifically, during the liquidation of the enterprise, the head of the liquidation commission claimed that the CEO had allegedly misappropriated assets belonging to the enterprise's balance sheet – a tablet and a mobile phone. However, during the court proceedings, the lawyers successfully demonstrated that the assets were indeed part of the enterprise's balance sheet and that no harm had been inflicted.

Our client was terminated from her position without any prior notice while she was on vacation. She discovered her dismissal through an SMS notification from the bank where she received her salary. Upon returning to review the termination order, she personally informed her colleagues about the gadgets in her possession. She submitted a request to have the value of the electronic devices deducted from her salary and later offered to return them. However, there was no response or dialogue from anyone. Furthermore, several months later, a statement was filed with the police against our client, alleging that she intentionally caused damage to the state by abusing her official position. Subsequently, both devices were confiscated.

"In addition to our client being terminated without her knowledge, the head of the liquidation commission subjected her to harassment by initiating a series of inspections. When the inspectors couldn't find anything, this story about the gadgets, which the defendant had declared herself, was emerged," noted Olha Koval, senior lawyer at Ario Law Firm.

"Now, picture this: a criminal investigation. For anyone, it's stress, nerves, pressure, time, financial expenses for lawyers, and so on. The duration of the criminal proceedings - six years. Not everyone can endure that long. We were also offere just to get out of business The prosecutor initially softened the qualification of the alleged offense. Later, we received proposals to ask the court to close the case due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. But our client - one of the few who decided not to give up and to fight the system to the end. The system, where the absolute majority prefers to give up because they feel defeated," says Yevhen Hrushovets, partner at Ario Law Firm.

Lawyers emphasize that the actions of the representatives of the state-owned enterprise who filed the statement show a deliberate desire to harm the client's business reputation, involving representatives of the law enforcement system.

"This case is very indicative and characterizes the state of the judicial-law enforcement system in the country. For six years, the state has been spending money for the police, prosecutors, and courts to deal with issues related to gadgets that our defendant tried to return herself and whose value decreases every day. We often talk about the overload of the courts, but the nuance is that they are overloaded largely due to such cases - hopeless, opened not for the purpose of establishing justice and holding the guilty accountable," says Yevhen Hrushovets.