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Ukraine: ‘Jan De Nul’ saved again?

 The famous Belgian company “Jan de Nul” once again became the focus of loud international scandal involving the bribery of public officials. In Ukraine the “Jan De Nul” became the investigation object for corruption deal with Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (USPA). Investigation conducts National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), that reports, that the owners of the “Jan de Nul” – brothers – Peter Jan de Nul and Dirk de Nul probably will be called for interrogatory.

 As it turned out, that the potential defendants – Belgian businessmen had been previously convicted for similar offense. And now in Ukraine, they are also can be charged for public officials bribery. In particular, Jan Pieter De Nul may be accused of bribing high-ranking Ukrainian officials in order to win the tender for dredging in the “Yuzhny” sea port. Not so long ago NABU searched the office of the subsidiary “Jan De Nul” – “Jan De Nul Ukraine”, as well as the USPA office. The search allowed to reveal important facts. It turned out that the Ukrainian subsidiary of the Belgian giant was affiliated to the Parliament Member Sergey Faermark. And the order for dredging valued in almost $50 million, that “Jan De Nul” won – apparently could be the result of an agreement with the head of Yuzhny branch ofUkrainian Sea Ports Authority Maxim Shirokov.

 It is worth to mention that before the tender started the ‘Jan De Nul’ had held 100% block of shares in its subsidiary in Ukraine. For a long time the Belgian businessmen tried in vain to enter the Ukrainian market of dredging. However, they could get the victory in the $50 million tender only after selling the 55% block of shares of “Jan De Nul Ukraine” to the two Cypriot companies. Thereafter the company was headed by Andrey Rozov – a former assistant of Sergey Faermark. It is noteworthy that, Mr.Rozov previously had nothing to do with the dredging business.

NABU suspects, that Yan Pieter De Nul and Dirk de Nul transferred to Sergey Faermark 55% stake in their “subsidiary” for help in obtaining the order for dredging in the “Yuzhny” sea port. The investigation found out that the de Nul brothers had already been prosecuted in home country for bribing officials and sentenced by the Belgian court to imprisonment. It was the loud corruption scandal that left a mark in European media. The Belgian anti-corruption agency revealed the fact of bribery of revenue service officer Willie Godgezlshup by de Nul brothers, after what the officer allowed machinations in Jan De Nul Groupe tax documents. In general, the official “earned” a few million Belgian francs, as well as a villa. 

The offense could be opened only because the revenue service officer had made a number of purchases clearly exceeding his incomes. The court sentenced Willi Godgezlshup to 5 years in prison with confiscation, and de Nul brothers – to three-year suspended sentence. Belgian Themis actually saved the businessmen from the real life behind bars just not to hurt the company. If de Nul brothers were put in prison, international contracts of Jan De Nul would have been in jeopardy. Since international law requires at the conclusion of any contract – a certificate of good conduct governing for managing director.

Another corruption story of de Nul brothers is not yet over in Latin America. It is possible that they will be put again at the dock for fraud for the multi-billion dollar tender for Panama Canal expanding. The story was, in particular, publicized by “New York Times” .Tender was won by clearly lower price. However, in the course of its implementation, thanks to the “necessary”  officials, the cost of works increased by $1.6 billion.

 The results of the Ukrainian investigation NABU certainly to give to Belgian law enforcement agencies and de Nul brothers would have again to meet native country Themis. Will Belgian justice once more save businessmen from responsibility – until the matter. However, the version in which the lawyers of Jan Peter and Dirk De Nul will try to justify their clients already clear. Apparently, the brothers will be posed as victims of extortion by the Ukrainian officials, which, of course, cannot be excluded. The scandal of Willie Godgezlshup bribery ended in the same way. The accused officer took the blame on himself, saying that he had demanded a bribe/ That allowed maximally to commute the sentence for de Nul brothers. However, such a way is not likely to work in the Ukrainian realities, where officials are also used to shift the blame on others. It is hardly to expect that Maxim Shirokov and Sergey Faermark would voluntarily plead guilty to extortion and thus support the Belgian businessmen.

In any case, the litigation in a court is waiting de Nul family, because a crime on the territory of another country does not remove the criminal liability.

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