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22 Jan. 2024


Resonance case of Mazepa: why business sided with the defendant and what now scares entrepreneurs



Resonance case of Mazepa: why business sided with the defendant and what now scares entrepreneurs

Ukrainian business has reacted strongly to the detention of businessman Ihor Mazepa and calls it a "war between business and law enforcers". Read more about why the case is so high-profile and what entrepreneurs are ready to do to be heard "from above"

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On Thursday, 18 January, it became known that the State Bureau of Investigation had detained businessman Igor Mazepa, founder of Concorde Capital, one of Ukraine's largest investment companies. We will tell you what he is accused of and why many businessmen are concerned about this case.

What do you know about Mazepa's activities and what are the charges against him?

Ihor Mazepa's Concorde Capital is engaged in investment and brokerage services, as well as debt restructuring.

The company owns 21.5% in the Dobrobut medical chain, KupiPay, a start-up selling agricultural land, Heidelbergcement Ukraine, the Sunny Craft Centre, an amber mining company, a stake in the MakeUp platform, and a licence for gas production in Lviv.

In the real estate sector, Mazepa is the owner of the Shelest countryside complex and the developer of the Goodlife Park cottage community.

After the arrest, the State Bureau of Investigation said that the suspect allegedly organised deals to alienate land of critical infrastructure, the Kyiv hydroelectric power station.

Law enforcement officers call the detainee the organiser of a scheme to illegally seize land on which the hydraulic structures of the critical infrastructure, the Kyiv HPP, are located. 

Later, the Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv imposed on Mazepa a pre-trial restraint in the form of arrest with the possibility of bail in the amount of UAH 349 million.

It is worth noting that Mazepa himself states that the case against him has been pending for more than 10 years, but has only started to move forward in the last month and a half. The businessman attributes the detention to his position of pressure on entrepreneurs and the activities of the Manifesto 42 social movement.

*Manifesto 42" is a union created by business in the summer of 2023 with the stated goal of protecting against the arbitrariness of rear security forces, corrupt officials and judges, black notaries and registrars. 

It was signed by 42 representatives of businesses and investors, including Serhiy Poznyak, chairman of the Association of Entrepreneurs of ATO Veterans, Igor Mazepa, co-owner of Nemiroff Yakov Gribov, CEO of OKKO Vasyl Danylyak, president of Obolon Oleksandr Slobodian, co-owner of Dobrobut clinics Oleg Kalashnikov, heads of Farmak and Astarta Viktor Ivanchyk, and Sergey Sipko of Agrofusion.

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How did Ukrainian business react?

According to Forbes Ukraine editor-in-chief Borys Davydenko, "the government and business should sign a new agreement" and explains that the Mazepa case should be a turning point in solving the problem of security forces' pressure on business.

"The question is in which direction the tide will turn: business will consolidate and force the government and law enforcement to sit down and agree on a new agreement. Either the security forces and Bankova Street will not notice the flurry of indignation and will come to other entrepreneurs tomorrow with searches," he said.

One Ukrainian businessman, who is one of the hundred richest people in Ukraine, compares Mazepa's case to the russian Khodorkovsky case, when the putin regime took away his business.

"If we lose this round, there will be a big redistribution of Ukrainian business," he said.

According to Davydenko, Ukrainian business has been operating in a new reality for almost a year, where "there are neither old nor new rules".

He explained that since 2014, the rules have been as follows: "You to us, we hardly touch you". According to him, this has stopped working. Explaining these rules, he clarifies that it could be financial or media support for a political project, importance for the city-region, a beautiful business could protect a good image, ideally an international one. That is, a business that had agreed with the election winners or the tax authorities on budget payments of at least 2% or was critically important to the local administration could operate more or less safely.

What does business demand and what are they willing to do?

In simple terms, entrepreneurs are directly opposed to pressure on them and their businesses by law enforcement agencies, the government and other subordinate bodies.

In response to Mazepa's detention and the high-profile case, the Manifesto-42 movement announced a move to "more radical" forms of protest against "arbitrariness of the rear security forces against business". 

If the government does not fulfil its demands by 1 February, they promised to shut down companies for one hour. The warning protest was scheduled for 12:00 on 1 February. They are going to partially suspend the work of the companies without prejudice to the fulfilment of defence orders.

One of the demands of Manifesto 42 is to develop and submit to the Verkhovna Rada legislative initiatives that the movement has developed with the help of lawyers. These initiatives, the movement says, are "aimed at limiting the abuse of power by werewolves in uniform during searches, seizure of accounts and property".

They also demand the creation of a permanent commission in the format "government - law enforcement - business associations".

Another demand is addressed directly to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He is required to publicly declare his position on searches of businesses without a court order and access to lawyers.

We remind you! Ukrainian businesses, despite the war and all the risks associated with staff shortages and the search for new markets and customers, tend to stay in Ukraine and have no plans to relocate. Read here to find out how entrepreneurs are coping with the challenges of military realities.

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