KYIV - February 21, 2019. The UBA Annual Forum XV Annual Legal Forum «Development of the legal services market in Ukraine – 2019» this year promises to be extremely relevant and acute. Let's talk about business consolidation, cyberspace in the legal profession and the regional dimension of the development of legal business.
Particularly hot topic will be the discussion of ethics and anti-ethics in legal community. What is anti-ethics for a lawyer? The speaker of the forum session entitled «Code of the Profession», Executive Director of the Center for Combating Corruption Darya Kalenyuk, shares her thoughts on the matter.
At the event, she will talk about gross violations of ethics by lawyers (in particular, in the area of corruption), and give examples of "corruption cases" from the coterie of the American President, that one day «rolled over» to the whole world.
During the discussion, the expert will suggest to reflect on the question of where lies the boundary between client defence and complicity in the crime. The audience will probably criticize some of those theses, but the speaker declares that she is ready for an active discussion.
- What issues will you address in your report and what is their relevance?
- I would like to talk about international standards for lawyers for combating the legalization of proceeds from crime. According to FATF (Financial Action Task Force), lawyers belong to one of the professions whose representatives are required to comply with clients - to audit who their clients are and what risks may come from them. This is a common standard, and afterwards through particular cases I would like to discuss how this standard is violated, and which international approaches counteract this standard.
In addition, I would like to discuss the latest cases in the investigation of Müller's special prosecutor regarding undeclared lobbyists, who turned out to be law firms and lawyers. These cases clearly illustrate how the law profession in the United States turned into a lobbyist profession that influenced the presidential election in 2016. At the forum, I will speak, of course, about cases against Paul Manaforth and the Skadden law firm.
In fact, this problem is present in many other countries, including Ukraine. Perhaps I will mention Mr. Firtash's extradition case in the context of his lawyers' activities, which are the former Minister of Justice of Austria and the former «gurus» of the United States criminal justice system. Also, there are several Ukrainian cases that I will touch upon.
- Actually, what we have with lobbying in Ukraine? Are lawyers active in this field or only politicians play a key role in lobbying?
- I am not a part of the legal profession, and this gives me an opportunity to see many examples when lawyers, and first and foremost advocates, having certain immunities, are simply abusing their lawyers' rights in order to cover the bad actions of their clients.
- But the key role of a lawyer is to protect the client, right? So where is the red line - between legal defence and concealment - if the client is always right?
- Ukraine also has the FATF standards and we have the Law "On counteraction to the legalization of proceeds from crime". Attorneys are also required to follow these standards when entering into contracts with their clients. They must verify, assess the risks of clients and find out the sources of their wealth. As an example, I can give a contest to the Higher Anti-Corruption Court, which showed that our lawyers, who are nominated for high positions of judges, almost do not declare their income. It is also one of the elements of transparency - to show real incomes and pay taxes. That is, if the lawyer is in demand on the market and serves many clients, then he must have the corresponding income and the corresponding payment. Our lawyers sometimes have miserable official incomes, that is, there are probably non-officials incomes as well. These hidden incomes, in fact, give the opportunity to abuse the rights of a lawyer and turn from a professional who renders legal services to his client, to an accomplice who participates in dirty schemes, which are very often illegal.
- As an anti-corruption specialist, you can tell how to record the fact of lawyer's corruption. I understand that so far it works only in one direction - if a lawyer gives a bribe for resolving the issue in favor of the client. The costs that he/she himself may receive may be considered a legal fee...
- In fact, the concept of this type of bribe is also an international standard. We just got used to the fact that there is only public corruption, corruption in state authorities. Lawyer, in essence, may be an accomplice to a crime - you just have to prove it. There is such a concept as escrow accounts. This is an account opened for your client after signing a contract for legal services. We have some examples, in particular, with Ukrainian corruptors, such escrow accounts were used to pay for tuition, tourist trips, service of some other foreign-spending policy or official who wants to hide wealth. Such account between a client and a lawyer has serious protection, immunity, and this account cannot be accessed easily. In particular, by the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, taking advantage, and actually - abusing the rights of a lawyer, - quite often these accounts are used for complicity in the legalization of proceeds from crime. This is a well-known international problem.
- Do you realize that you will play in the lawyers' field? And, perhaps somewhere among the audience there will be even parties to these cases...
- «I think that such examples will fuel a genuine discussion of issues that the legal community tend to avoid in public debate. I am ready to be thrown with tomatoes, but I will have a unique opportunity to "talk about an elephant in a hall that nobody speaks of»
UBA Annual Forum XV Annual Legal Forum «Development of the legal services market in Ukraine – 2019» will be held on March 22, 2019 at Hilton Kyiv.
* This interview was first published in «Yurydychna Gazeta» Weekly.