NAKO Secretary General Olena Tregub at the Washington-based Voice of America studio spoke about how the security and defence sector has changed over the past four years, where NAKO has succeded in its anti-corruption fight and what needs to be done to promote reforms in Ukraine's defence and security sector. 'Voice of America' host: At least USD 2.6 trillion - this it what corruption costs the global economy, said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. According to the UN research, the highest level of corruption is in the conflict areas. Ukraine is one of such countries. Today we welcome in our studio Olena Tregub, who is the Secretary General of the Indeendent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee which is the part of the NGO Transparency International. Oleno, thank you for coming to us. While the conflict in the East of Ukraine in still on, the country is strengthening its Armed Forces, increases the defence budget. However, the Ministry of Defence has always had the reputation of a very corrupt structure.
In your opinion, has anything changed recently, and can now the state funds can be trusted to this institution? Olena Tregub, Secretary General of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee: A lot has definitely changed. If you remember the beginning of the conflict in the East, and the Crimea, it started from the situation when Ukraine basically couldnot defend itself. Becase the military equipment had been sold out, and everything had been ruined. Now the budget has increased, it's now almost five times bigger in comparison with 2014. Now the budget of the defence sector is USD 168 billion, from these funds 86 billion goes to the Ministry of Defence. Undoubtedly, some transparent procurement has begun, for example for such goods as clothes, food and fuel. This has started with Prozorro. This is a positive side. However, 55 per cent of the precurement still takes place through DOZ - the State Defence Order, through the secret closed procedure, when one simply goes to the supplier and agrees about the delivery of certain products to the frontline. We have found out that often these companies are related to Ukraine's high officials. Voice of America' host: The Committee that you are currently leading, the part of Transparency International, has been created 2 years ago to promote the anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine. Over these two years, what have you been able to achieve? Olena Tregub, Secretary General of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee: We are proud to be able to have made the state defence enterprise Ukroboronprom (which includes 130 member companies) resume the work of the Supervisory Board. According to the standards of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development in Europe it is necessary that defence enterprises have the Supervisory Board which reprsents the stte interests and does the oversight of how the the enterprise is working. When there was no Supervisory Board, our Committee insisted that it would break the cooperation with Ukroboronprom if there was no Supervisory Board. And at the beginning of 2018 President Petro Poroshenko renewed the Supervisory Board and appointed its Head. Now, due to this we are moving further with the international audit of Ukroboronprom. It has been announced, the tender is being organized now, and if everything goes fine, it will be a big refor of Ukroboronprom which will let attract investments, reduce the corruption level and improve the situation in Ukraine's defence industry. 'Voice of America' host: So, how your cooperation with the Ukrainian government takes place? As Transperency International is not a governmental organization, may be you are not really welcome at the governmental level? Olena Tregub, Secretary General of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee: We signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence. Minister Poltorak has indicated some topics where we should assess the corruption risks. For example, the defence housing problem, the Ministry of Defence land, the use of foreign security assistance recieved by the Ministry of Defence, medical supplies. We are making the research, these are quite serious reports for 80 pages, for example where we describe different facts and explain what should be done to eliminate this corruption. For example, which legislative act should be rewritten, which law should be adopted and how to fix the electronic systems 'Mayno' (Property) and 'Zhytlo' (Housing). So we are the partner for reforms when there is the political will. Now there is a political will, at least in words. When we organize any event, there are always high officials who come, even when we write about them in our reports. When they come, they promise to make the defence procurement more transparent. 'Voice of America' host: What would you define as the most important thing to do? The key step which would allow to stop corruption in defence industry, if not eliminate it fully? Olena Tregub, Secretary General of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee: The easiest and the most important step is to remove the military property and equipment which should not be classified from the DOZ (the State Defence Order) which is related to the State Secret system. Even Ukraine's Minister of Defence Poltorak thinks that only 10 per cent of all procurement should be classified. And if now the new law on state defence order is adopted where the biggest part of this procurement is de-classified, it will allow us to provide the more effective monitoring and thus reduce the corruption risks. 'Voice of America' host: Thank you, Oleno. We welcomed in our studio Olena Tregub, the Secretary General of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee which is the part of Transaprency International. Source: (minutes 3:23 - 8:43): https://ukrainian.voanews.com/live/video/111/4583809