Ukraine Prosecutor General Announces Audit of Cases Including Firm Linked to Hunter Biden

In a press conference on Friday, the new Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Ruslan Riaboshapka, reportedly announced his office is undertaking an audit of all cases closed or settled under his predecessor, including investigations into the oil and gas company Burisma and the firm’s owner Mykola Zlochevskiy. It appears this is part of a general review of all cases by the prior office. The Prosecutor General said the review is being conducted “to make a decision on cases where illegal procedural decisions were taken.” BBC’s Ukraine correspondent, Jonah Fisher, wrote in a tweet, “Important to stress – this is an audit not a re-opening of the investigations. No suggestion (that I’ve seen) that Biden’s are being looked at.”

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quotes the General Prosecutor as stating:

“Now we are conducting an audit of those cases that were previously investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO). In the area you are talking about, where Zlochevskiy, [Ukrainian businessman Serhiy] Kurchenko and other people or companies could be involved, there are a half and a dozen such cases. We are now reviewing all the cases which were closed, fragmented or investigated earlier in order to make a decision on cases where illegal procedural decisions were taken,” he said, answering a question about the prosecution of defendants in the Burisma case.

Max Seddon, Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times wrote in a tweet, “This is in the context of a general review of all cases conducted by the previous prosecutor, so it’s not quite the full investigation Trump wants. Ryaboshapka has previously said some Burisma cases were handled correctly” (emphasis added).

“He is not promising to reopen the case against Burisma, Biden or Zlochevksyi,” Daria Kaleniuk a leading Ukrainian anti-corruption advocate said. “Riaboshapka is saying that PGO is losing investigative powers on November 20 this year (this is part of procuracy reform starting since 2015). And therefore they are doing audits of all investigations which PGO has including cases against [former President] Yanukovych associates.”

[Update: The Prosecutor General has published a statement on the office’s website. It says, “According to the Ukrainian legislation, the audit of all criminal proceedings is carried out successively,” which may suggest that this is a more ordinary procedure. The statement also reads, “No procedural decisions related to the proceedings against the aforementioned person or any persons related to Mykola Zlochevskyi or his companies have been taken at this time.”]

The Prosecutor General’s announcement comes within twelve hours of the release of text messages showing U.S. diplomats working behind the scenes to advance President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s effort to get the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office to investigate Burisma to help Mr. Trump’s political ambitions against Joe Biden.

For more background on these events, read: “Timeline: Trump, Giuliani, Biden, and Ukrainegate.” 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).