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Ukrainian Lawmakers Approve Bill Criminalizing Illicit Enrichment

KYIV -- Ukraine’s parliament has approved President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s bill that criminally punishes state officials for illegally enriching themselves.

A simple majority of 259 lawmakers on October 31 voted to pass the text in its second and final reading.

The proposed law is seen as a condition for Ukraine to receive additional aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Kyiv has been negotiating a new lending program with the Washington-based lender to replace a $3.9 billion deal that expires early next year.

Under the bill, officials who illegally enrich themselves would be punished by 5 to 10 years in prison with a ban on holding certain government positions for three years. It also sets procedures for confiscating the illicitly gained assets.

The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office would file cases to the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, which would hear the lawsuits.

A previous illicit enrichment law that was passed in 2015 was overturned by the constitutional court in February for not “meeting the requirements of clarity, accuracy, and unambiguity.”

The move sparked concern among anti-corruption watchdogs, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), and Ukraine’s international backers.

As a result of the constitutional court’s decision, NABU in March said it had closed more than 60 criminal cases involving more than $20 million.

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