Pavlo Lazarenko

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Pavlo Lazarenko
Павло Лазаренко
Pavlo Lazarenko.jpg
5th Prime Minister of Ukraine
In office
28 May 1996 – 2 July 1997
President Leonid Kuchma
Preceded by Yevhen Marchuk
Succeeded by Valeriy Pustovoitenko
First Vice-Premier
In office
September 1995 – May 1996
Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk
Preceded by Viktor Pynzenyk
Succeeded by Vasyl Durdynets
Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Region
In office
March 1992 – June 1994
President Leonid Kravchuk
Personal details
Born Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko
(1953-01-23) 23 January 1953 (age 61)
Karpivka, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR
Political party Hromada (formerly)
Spouse(s) Tamara[1]
Children 1 son, 2 daughters[1]

Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko (Ukrainian: Павло Іванович Лазаренко; born 23 January 1953) is a former Ukrainian politician and former Prime Minister who in August 2006 was convicted and sentenced to prison in the United States for money laundering, wire fraud and extortion. According to United Nations, approximately $200 million was embezzled by Lazarenko during 1996–1997 from the government of Ukraine.[2]

Early years[edit]

Pavlo Lazarenko was born in a village of Karpivka (Shyroke Raion) that is located just outside of a former Inhulets city (today part of Kryvyi Rih) on 23 January 1953 in peasant family (gardener). In 1970 he worked as a driver in the kolkhoz "Zoria Komunizma" (Dawn of Communism) in Shyroke Raion. From May 1971 to June 1973 Lazarenko served in the Soviet Army on the border with Afghanistan. After that in 1973-1978 he studied at the Dnipropetrovsk State Agrarian University in Agronomic Department.

Career[edit]

After graduating Lazarenko received a specialty of agronomist. From 1978 to 1983 he worked as agronomist, chief agronomist, and head of kolkhoz administration in the Kalinin kolkhoz, Novomoskovsk Raion.

In 1984 Lazarenko was appointed a head of agricultural department of Tsarychanka Raion. From 1985 to 1987 he worked as a Communist party functionary in Tsarychanka Raion. In 1987-90 Lazarenko worked for the Communist Party of Dnipropetrovsk region in agricultural production and food industry sectors. In February 1990 he was elected a head of Agro-Industrial Complex of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. In August 1991 Lazarenko was elected as the first deputy of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor office, while he also was appointed a director of the regional department of agriculture.

In March 1992 the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk appointed Lazarenko the representative of President of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.[3] Lazarenko's candidacy was nominated by the council of working groups conference of the Dnipropetrovsk State Agrarian University whose decision was supported by over 200 groups. Leonid Kuchma at that time was proposing another candidacy of Valeriy Pustovoitenko. Lazarenko stayed at the governor position until June 1994. Although he sided with incumbent Kravchuk in the 1994 elections (June–July), he managed to establish close ties with the election winner, Leonid Kuchma. Upon recommendation of the Prime Minister of Ukraine Yevhen Marchuk, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma appointed Pavlo Lazarenko the First Vice Prime Minister (in Energy Affairs)[4] on 5 September 1995. As the government official in energy affairs, he was charged with a task of negotiating gas supplies with Russia and Turkmenistan.[4] Already next year in 1996 Ukraine reported no debts to the Russian Gazprom (Gas Industries) for the first since its independence.[4] In 1996 Lazarenko became Doctor of Economic Sciences.

Prime minister[edit]

On 28 May 1996 Kuchma confirmed Lazarenko as the Prime Minister of Ukraine within the powers stipulated by the current "Constitutional Agreement". On 10 July 1996 less than two weeks after adopting a new Constitution of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada approved the appointment of prime-minister. On 16 July 1996 Lazarenko survived an attempt on his life when a bomb exploded near his blocked car en route from Kiev to Boryspil airport.[5]

While in charge of the Cabinet, Lazarenko reportedly exercised control over many lucrative business projects and speculatively charged 50 percent of profits for his patronage. At that time, he maintained a close business relationship with Yulia Tymoshenko, then the CEO of Yedyni Energosystemy Ukrayiny (United Energy Systems of Ukraine), a monopoly that imported Russian natural gas.[6]

Lazarenko was involved in a prolonged and bitter struggle for economic domination with the emerging "Donetsk clan" (an industrial group based in Donetsk). Some Ukrainian media indirectly accused Yevhen Shcherban, the leader of the Liberal Party of Ukraine, of the 1996 assassination attempt on Lazarenko.[7] Conversely, others speculated that Shcherban's murder was a tit-for-tat order by the Prime Minister.[citation needed]

He may have also plotted against Oleksandr Volkov, a close associate of President Kuchma. Reportedly, Volkov became aware of the planned assassination and made a phone call to Lazarenko threatening appropriate revenge.[8]

By mid-1997, Lazarenko had fallen out of favor with Kuchma, who suspected him of making plans to run for presidency in 1999. Kuchma later regretted Lazarenko's appointment as "my gravest mistake".[citation needed]

Lazarenko, who had no previous record of serious illness, was unexpectedly hospitalized in late June 1997. It is speculated that he spent the two weeks of the leave for his supposed sickness in vain attempts to mend fences with Kuchma. Technically, under the Ukrainian labor code law, a hospitalized individual may not be terminated from his position. However, when his dismissal became imminent, Lazarenko resigned on 2 July 1997, on his own initiative.

On 12 May 1998 he was elected to the parliament again from the N40 electoral district of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast as part of Hromada opposition party. In parliament Lazarenko became a leader of the Hromada parliamentary faction. Hromada frequently sided with the Socialist parliamentary faction of Oleksandr Moroz.

Imprisonments and trials[edit]

Lazarenko was detained in December 1998 on money-laundering charges as he crossed by car from France into Switzerland. He was released on bail a few weeks later after giving surety of three million dollars. Details of his arrest in Switzerland led to a political scandal in Ukraine as rumours spread about Lazarenko attempting to cross the Swiss border with a Panamanian passport. The public uproar was in part instigated by President Kuchma's administration, who pressed for Lazarenko's arrest.

The Verkhovna Rada voted to waive Lazarenko's parliamentary immunity on 17 February 1999; however, Lazarenko fled the country on the eve of the parliamentary vote. He initially stopped in Greece but was detained in New York at JFK airport on 20 February 1999, on suspicion of illegally entering the United States. Lazarenko was reported to have a large amount of documents with him, including a Ukrainian diplomatic passport with an outdated U.S. visa, and he requested political asylum. Lazarenko was transferred to a jail in San Francisco, since his family owned a ranch in California. Ukrainian authorities requested his extradition in 2000, after charging him over the 1996 killing of Yevhen Shcherban and two attempts on the lives of high-ranking officials. The office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine also claimed that Lazarenko instigated the assassination of Vadym Hetman in late April 1998.[citation needed]

In the United States, Lazarenko was put on trial for money-laundering, corruption, and fraud. Attorney Daniel Horowitz represented Lazarenko on charges arising out of his operation of the Ukrainian gas business, Doron Weinberg represented him regarding charges of extortion of a business partner. The judge dismissed more than half the charges, but allowed the remaining charges to be presented to the jury for decision. In late May 2004 a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of using his position to get rich through a series of business schemes; with Transparency International naming Lazarenko the eighth most corrupt political leader in recent history that the same year.[9] In October 2005 Lazarenko stated his intention to return to Ukraine in order to run in the March 2006 parliamentary elections; however Lazarenko remained under house arrest at an undisclosed location on $86 million bail from June 2004 until August 2006 after being convicted by a twelve member jury.

Lazarenko was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison on 25 August 2006.[10] On 18 October 2006 an appeal stemming from Lazarenko's conviction (but not the appeal of the conviction) was heard by a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which included former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor sitting by designation.[11] Lazarenko was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California.[12] U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer cut Lazarenko's sentence from 108 to 97 months in prison on 19 November 2009. The court took into account that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed approximately half the counts he was convicted of, leaving convictions only for acts committed 17 years previously. In November 2009 Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko stated that if Lazarenko returns to Ukraine he will be detained as he is on the international wanted list.[13]

He was imprisoned at FCI Terminal Island until 1 November 2012.[14] Since then he applied for residency in the United States.[15] According to Lazarenko's defense lawyer Viktor Chevhuz the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will deal with this application by the end of 2013.[15] According to Chevhuz this could lead to the demand to Lazarenko to leave the country within 72 hours with the right to fly anywhere; "Or a deportation to a country from which he arrived - Greece, because there is no extradition treaty with Ukraine".[15] Chevhuz further expected Lazarenko to not return to Ukraine "as the criminal cases against him, which had been previously dropped, may be reopened".[15] Immediately after his 1 November 2012 release the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine stated that as soon as Lazarenko would return to Ukraine he would be arrested; for his involvement in around 50 criminal cases.[14] Lazarenko owns a luxurious mansion in Marin County, California[16] which was bought with money looted from the Ukrainian budget.

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine suspects the involvement of Lazarenko (with Yulia Tymoshenko) in the murder of Donetsk businessman Yevhen Shcherban and Alexander Momot in 1996, and the assassination of banker Vadym Hetman in 1998; Lazarenko has denied involvement in all these cases.[17]

Size of corruption[edit]

According to an official count by the United Nations, approximately $200,000,000 was looted by Lazarenko during 1996–1997 from the government of Ukraine.[2]

Lazarenko is reported to have abused his official authority as the Ukranian Prime Minister to extort nearly 50 percent of businessman Peter Kiritchenko's $60 million in profits. Lazarenko then ordered him to assist in laundering the proceeds to accounts in Poland, Switzerland, Antigua, and eventually in the United States, where a shell company was used to conceal his property pucrchases. Kiritchenko pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of stolen property and agreed to testify against Lazarenko.[18]

In 1998, he made unlawful transfers of $2.3 million from one Dugsbery account at WestAmerica Bank, which can be traced back to Mr. Lazarenko’s Lady Lake bank account in the Bahamas, to an account at Bank Boston Robertson Stevens. Both the funds in this account and those in a San Francisco EuroFed can be traced back to Lazarenko’s CARPO-53 account, where he deposited funds from the Naukovy fraud and from his extortion of Mr. Kiritchenko's funds. In total, Lazarenko was found to have laundered over $15 million from his Swiss bank account which ultimately ended up in Kiritchenko's EuroFed accounts in San Francisco. A Geneve court in June 2000 tried and convicted in absentia Lazarenko for laundering $6.6 million in illicit proceeds. [19]

In a special investigative report conducted by Kelly Carr and Brian Grow, two Reuter's journalists, it is stated that Lazarenko "was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International" and that "Court records submitted in Lazarenko's criminal case and documents from a separate civil lawsuit, as well as interviews with lawyers familiar with the matter, indicate Lazarenko controls a shelf company incorporated in Cheyenne that owns an estimated $72 million in real estate in Ukraine through other companies".[20] That shelf company, a special type of shell company, is named Capital Investments Group.

He acquired majority of his illegal funds through his activities in the gas and energy sector of Ukraine, where he was Energy Minister in the mid 1990s. He was reported by Radio Free Europe to have been guilty of money laundering in the United States and has routinely been on Transparency International's lists of most corrupt officials.[18]

In the 2004 Global Corruption Report, Lazarenko made it into the list of the World's Most Corrupt Leaders. He was listed eighth and was said to have amassed between $114 million to $200 million.[21][22]

In 2013, US authorities confiscated his $6.75 million California mansion in connection with his money laundering conviction from a decade before. Authorities have also sanctioned the seizure of a Pablo Picasso lithograph he is rumored to possess.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Lazarenko is married with his wife Tamara (born 1954) and has one son and two daughters.[1] According to The Ukrainian Weekly; at the time of his arrest in December 1998 Lazarenko's wife and children were living in a mansion in Novato (near San Francisco) worth $7 million.[24]

Lazarenko's father Ivan Tryfonovych was born in 1926 in the Hnidyn village, Boryspil Raion. Right after his birth he along with his parents moved to the Kherson region. Father of Ivan Tryfonovych was a market gardener. In 1932 the family moved to Karpivka where grandfather Tryfon established a market garden of 34 ha (84 acres). In 1944 he went to front and never came back. Ivan Tryfonovych also became a gardener and established another garden in Karpivka of 560 ha (1,400 acres). In 1954 he was appointed a head of a local kolkhoz and later in the neighboring village. In 1956 Ivan Tryfonovych joined the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Lazarenko's older brother Mykola worked as a chairman of the Hnidyn rural council in 1975-86 and later in the Inhulets Ore Enrichment Works. Lazarenko's younger brother Ivan worked in one of agricultural companies of the Novomoskovsk Raion.

In the media[edit]

Investigative journalism[edit]

Pavlo Lazarenko activity was investigated by many Ukrainian journalists. Among them the most notable success was achieved by the following ones:

  • Vadym Klymentyev, deputy editor of the Dnipropetrovsk newspaper "Our City" ("Nashe Misto"), editor in chief of Dnipropetrovsk municipal newspaper "Zoria".
  • Mykola Kravchuk, editor in chief of Dnipropetrovsk newspaper "Our City" ("Nashe Misto"). In 2000 Nikolay Kravchuk being an editor of edition, opposition to Lazarenko, was splashed in the face with acid by unknown person. Then journalists accused Pavel Lazarenko of the attack.[25]
  • Borys Filatov, journalist, lawyer, author and host of the television program "The provincial chronicles", which went on air of Dnipropetrovsk 9-th channel; in 2010 the TV show called "The provincial forecasts" went on the air of Dnipropetrovsk regional state TV and radio company (51 channel).
  • Serhiy Rakhmanin, editor of the Ukrainian policy department of the newspaper "The Mirror of the Week", a member of the All-Ukrainian commission on journalistic ethics, author and host of "No slogans" program (joint project of "Public Radio" and radio "Continent").

In 2008, according to the results of collective investigative journalism, the book "The Phenomenon of Lazarenko. Villain or Genius?" edited by Vadym Klymentyev was published. It was dedicated to the analysis of the politicians’ life course[26]

According to the results of investigations of journalist Boris Filatov two documentaries, that revealed the essence of the charges against Mr. Lazarenko in the U.S., were filmed[27]

Awards[edit]

Lazarenko is a recipient of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1995 and two orders of Saint Volodymyr from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c (Russian) Short bio, LIGA
  2. ^ a b Kravets, David. "Former Ukraine leader ordered to prison." Associated Press, 25 August 2006, (Accessed: 4 November 2013
  3. ^ Hometown might not vote for Tymoshenko, Kyiv Post (11 December 2009)
  4. ^ a b c Rutland, 173
  5. ^ Kolomayets, Marta. "Lazarenko escapes assassination attempt." Ukrainian Weekly, 21 July 1996, (Accessed: 25 August 2006)
  6. ^ Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union 1997: The Challenge of Integration by Peter Rutland, M.E. Sharpe, 1998, ISBN 0765603594/ISBN 978-0765603593 (page 174)
  7. ^ "Ukraine Tycoon Shot Dead." The New York Times, 5 November 1996 (Accessed:26 August 2006)
  8. ^ "Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Lazarenko appeared to be a killer". Pravda (in Russian). 2 March 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  9. ^ http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0921295.html
  10. ^ " Former Ukraine PM is jailed in US." BBC News, 25 August 2006 (Accessed: 26 August 2006)
  11. ^ United States v. Lazarenko, 476 F.3d 644, 644–5 (9th Cir. 2007), appeal dismissed, petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc denied.
  12. ^ Former Ukraine prime minister's conviction upheld, by Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 11 April 2009. – Retrieved on 18 June 2009.
  13. ^ Lazarenko to be detained if he returns to Ukraine, says interior minister, Interfax-Ukraine (12 November 2009)
  14. ^ a b Media: Lazarenko detained again due to uncertain status for staying in U.S., Kyiv Post (2 November 2012)
  15. ^ a b c d PRESS: Lazarenko could be deported from U.S., Interfax-Ukraine (4 November 2013)
  16. ^ http://www.marinij.com/novato/ci_20808683/picasso-piece-worth-30-000-missing-from-lazarenko Picasso piece worth $30,000 missing from Lazarenko mansion after Novato teen party.
  17. ^ (Ukrainian) Генпрокуратура перевіряє Тимошенко на причетність до ще одного вбивства, BBC Ukrainian (7 April 2012)
  18. ^ a b Soldak, Katya (2 November 2012). "Out of Prison in California, Former Prime Minister Lazarenko is Not in a Rush to Go to Ukraine". Forbes. 
  19. ^ "Pavel I. Lazarenko". Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. 
  20. ^ Special Report – A little house of secrets on the Great Plains
  21. ^ "World's Ten Most Corrupt Leaders1". Infoplease.com Source: Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  22. ^ "Global Corruption Report". Transparency International. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  23. ^ "U.S. Seizes Lazarenko's $6M California Mansion". Moscow Times. 5 November 2013. 
  24. ^ The case of Pavlo Lazarenko: a study of high-level corruption PART II, The Ukrainian Weekly (24 February 2002)
  25. ^ Personal accounts of Lazarenko. Magazine "Business Capital, (Accessed:13 November 2006)
  26. ^ phenomenon of Lazarenko: Villain or Genius? Collective investigative journalism, edited by Vadim Klymentyev Do you know what kind of a guy he was?, The newspaper "Faces" ([http://www.litsa.com.ua/ "Litsa"]), (Accessed: 8 January 2008)
  27. ^ Boris Filatov: Even if Lazarenko is released, he will not return in Ukraine, [http://www.unian.net/ UNIAN], (Accessed:16 November 2009)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Yevhen Marchuk
Prime Minister of Ukraine
1996–1997
Succeeded by
Valeriy Pustovoitenko