OECD: Ukraine Must Strengthen Fight Against Corruption

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine must step up its fight against corruption, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday, calling on the ex-Soviet republic to toughen prosecution of bribery and other graft cases.

In a report, the Paris-based business group urged Ukraine to reform its criminal legislation, to toughen prosecution of corruption and to strengthened cooperation among enforcement bodies.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said last month that the national budget had lost up to US$1.78 billion (€1.4 billion) in revenues as a result of corruption.

Watchdog group Transparency International's ranking of corrupt nations has listed Ukraine as one of the worst for several years.

After coming into power in 2004, President Viktor Yushchenko pledged to make fighting corruption a top goal for his government and to hold former officials accountable for any proven misdeeds. But there have been no successful, high-profile corruption cases under his presidency.

The OECD report analyzed the progress made by this ex-Soviet republic to put in place the recommendations made by the organization since its last review in 2004.

"The country needs to toughen punishment for abuse of office. It is very difficult to solve such cases but punishment for it is only administrative responsibility," said Konstantin Stogniy, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

He said between January and October, Ukrainian courts heard nearly 2,700 corruption cases and convicted 1,900 persons on various charges.

Comprised of 30 mainly industrialized nations, the Paris-based OECD strives to help governments achieve sustainable economic growth.

Source: International Herald Tribune