The EU should step up efforts to target Ukrainian oligarchs behind “grand corruption,” as support for Kiev has failed to curb rampant graft, the bloc’s spending watchdog said on Thursday.
A report by the European Court of Auditors said major EU backing for reforms in Ukraine had proved “ineffective” in helping tackle graft worth tens of billions of euros annually.
“The EU has long been aware of the connections between oligarchs, high-level officials, politicians, the judiciary and state-owned enterprises,” the report said.
“However, it has not developed a real strategy for targeting grand corruption.”
Grand corruption is “the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society”, according to leading anti-graft body Transparency International.
The EU watchdog recommended the bloc “analyze and consider a model for preventing individual Ukrainians (oligarchs and people under their influence) who are suspected of grand corruption from entering the EU and using their assets there.”
The report came as Ukraine’s parliament passed a law aimed at reducing the influence of the business magnates who have long dominated the country by banning them from funding political parties or snapping up major state firms.
The move came the day after an attack on a top presidential aide that officials said could have been in retribution for the legislation.
The EU is the largest international donor to Ukraine.
Brussels has committed around 7.8 billion euros ($9.2 billion) in support to Ukraine since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of its conflict against Moscow-backed separatists in 2014.
Grand corruption is defined by leading anti-graft body Transparency International as “the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society.”