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Report: Ukrainian Security Service Chief Runs Company In Spain, Illegally

Ivan Bakanov, whom the president has described as the "most honest SBU chief," did not comment personally. (file photo)

KYIV -- The head of the Ukrainian Security Service holds a top position in a private company registered in Spain, in violation of an anti-corruption law, according to a Skhemy investigative program.

According to the May 21 report, an official extract from the register of legal entities in Spain shows Ivan Bakanov has occupied the post of sole administrator at Nueva Tierra Verde Sociedad Limitada since 2015.

According to Ukrainian law, the head of the service, known as the SBU, cannot be the head of a private company.

The founder of the company is the Cypriot firm Davegra LTD, owned by Andriy Yakovlev, the creator of Kvartal-95 Studio, where President Volodymyr Zelenskiy worked as a comedian/actor before he was elected last year.

The name of the company, based in the Spanish province of Girona, translates as New Green Territory in English, echoing the titles of projects with Zelenskiy's involvement. The president's last name stems from the word green in Slavic languages.

According to the register, the company specializes in construction and various real-estate activities.

Since it does not submit annual reports on its operations, the company was added to a list of violators of Spanish tax regulations.

Last autumn, the company's tax identification number was temporarily revoked due to the violation.

The State Register of Legal Entities of the Province of Girona confirmed to Skhemy that the company had not been liquidated and was considered a functioning entity.

Under Spanish regulations, Bakanov is legally the company's sole manager and fully in charge of running it.

Article 25 of Ukraine's Law on the Prevention of Corruption states that individuals occupying public offices are banned "from being members of boards, other executive or control bodies, and supervisory boards of commercial enterprises or profit organizations."

Bakanov refused to comment on the situation, but the SBU press service provided Skhemy with a statement denying Bakanov did anything wrong.

Skhemy, which translates as Schemes, is a joint investigative news project produced by RFE/RL and UA:Pershy television.

"It is a well-known fact that, long before his appointment as the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine, Ivan Bakanov was successfully engaged in business, including business activities abroad. We stress that, in compliance with the law requirements, he has not been engaged in commercial activities since his appointment to the public office. Nueva Tierra Verde Sociedad Limitada officially suspended its activities in 2019, which is reflected in the relevant register of legal entities," the SBU's statement said.

When asked about the Spanish State Register's statement confirming the company was still listed as functioning with Bakanov as its sole administrator, the press service said that "work to clarify the issue will be done."

The deadline for submitting property and income declarations by Ukrainian officials to the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption is June 1.

According to amendments to the legislation introduced last fall, the SBU leadership must make all income declarations public.

However, Zelenskiy submitted an "urgent" bill to parliament in March that would again classify the SBU leadership's income and property declarations.

Zelenskiy promised to discuss the issue with Bakanov, whom he calls "the most honest SBU chief," when asked about the move during a press conference on May 20.

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    RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

    RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service has seen its audience grow significantly since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022 and is among the most cited media outlets in the country. Its bold, in-depth reporting from the front lines has won many accolades and awards. Its comprehensive coverage also includes award-winning reporting by the Donbas.Realities and Crimea.Realities projects and the Schemes investigative unit.