Unraveling the Ihor Mazepa case: political target or land scammer?
Ihor Mazepa (Photo - Volodymyr Fomichov/LIGA.net)

On the evening of January 18, businessman Ihor Mazepa, owner of Concorde Capital, was detained at the border of Ukraine and Poland. According to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), which is conducting a pre-trial investigation, Mazepa built cottages on the land plots of the Kyiv HPP, which poses a threat to the functioning of Kyiv's critical infrastructure.

"The plots on which hydrotechnical structures are located – and you and I understand this very well – are critical infrastructure of the capital. Currently we are talking seven hectares of land. They have been re-registered with straw figures in order to build cottage towns on them," said SBI communications advisor Tetiana Sapyan on the national telethon.

Mazepa's actions were qualified under articles 255 (criminal organization), 233 (illegal privatization), 209 (legalization of property) of the Criminal Code. He was confined to custody with the possibility of posting a bail of 329 million hryvnias ($8.8 million), although they initially asked for 700 million hryvnias ($18.7 million).

Ihor Mazepa owns several cottage towns on the east bank of the Kyiv Reservoir. It is because of the land they stand on that the SBI has indicted the Ukrainian businessman.

Pressure on Ihor Mazepa's business

During the court hearings on January 19, where LIGA.net was present, Ihor Mazepa gave a lengthy comment to the mass media. According to the businessman, the issue concerns the purchase of plots of land in the Vyshhorod district, which the SBI investigators call the dam of the Kyiv HPP, which they found two months ago.

"Investigators and prosecutors claim that everything that was built there, including the villages of Lebedivka and Khotyanivka, was built illegally. And I, businessman Ihor Mazepa, seem to have set up all this scheme, and now I am the leader of a criminal group," said the businessman. "This is nonsense, of course. They say, you should have known in 2004, when you first bought this land, and then in 2007 and in 2010, that in January 2024 we will have this expertise that will say that these are lands of the water fund and cannot be privatized. Therefore, you are guilty and, moreover, you are also the organizer of a criminal group."

According to the entrepreneur, in the text of the indictment, which he saw with the lawyers, he is charged with the illegal purchase of 2.4 hectares, although the entire land on the territory of the HPP spans over 3,000 hectares. A bail of 700 million hryvnias ($18.7 million) was demanded for this accusation, and the damage to the state was estimated at 7 million hryvnias ($186,880).

"This is definitely contrary to common sense and raises many questions about the purity of the intentions of the investigators of the State Security Bureau and the Prosecutor's Office, and is essentially pressure. Active investigative actions against the investors of other plots of land, my neighbors, have been going on for two months. Some of them are held in remand prisons, some have bails of 50-80 million hryvnias ($1.3-2.1 million). But after the start of these cases, I went abroad and returned, not hiding from anyone," said the owner of Concorde Capital.

Unraveling the Ihor Mazepa case: political target or land scammer?
Ihor Mazepa (photo by Volodymyr Fomichev)

In addition, Ihor Mazepa says that active pressure on him has been going on for several months. In the fall of 2023, an economic case was started regarding the Mainytske gas field, where Mazepa won the case in court. But, he still had searches, he said.

In general, Mazepa defines this case as pressure. He says that the situation with the business climate in Ukraine is the worst in recent decades. And after the business meeting with the president, the situation worsened significantly.

"The day before yesterday, I met with a couple of developers. And each of them has several new criminal cases, per which the [authorities] come to them and milk them," said the businessman, commenting on the issue of oppression of entrepreneurs.

"We do not fully understand the situation with the land, because the investigation points to plots that were bought in different periods: in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The plots were bought on the market from different people. Such ads can appear on any kind of real estate sites. We were indicted only on Friday morning, so we have not yet had time to figure out what specific plots the investigation is referring to. However, it is clear that the bail is unreasonable, since it is almost a hundred times higher than the amount of damages declared by the prosecutors. In my opinion, the bail should be at least commensurate with the size of the declared losses. I emphasize that Ihor Mazepa did not and could not take any actions that would cause losses to the state. From a professional point of view, in this situation, I see a tendency to increase pressure against businesses," Andriy Ivaniv, Ihor Mazepa's lawyer, told LIGA.net

The opinion of the defense regarding the bail did not change even after the court halved it to 329 million hryvnias ($8.8 million).

"We will definitely appeal, the amount is unjustified, and it was taken out of the blue. Unfortunately, in recent months, such a practice has developed when the prosecutor asks for one amount, and the court simply divided it into two without any justification. Now Mr. Mazepa will be in the pre-trial detention center. We we will file an appeal, the appellate court will appoint the case for consideration. We do not yet know when it will be," says Andriy Ivaniv.

Mazepa is one of the ideologists and founders of the "Manifesto 42" initiative. This is a community founded by 42 Ukrainian entrepreneurs. It is engaged in analyzing the pressure on businesses and protecting entrepreneurs from law enforcement agencies. At its core, the association criticizes the activities of the President's Office, especially its control over law enforcement agencies, such as the State Security Bureau, the Economic Security Bureau (ESBU), and the State Audit Service (SASU).

What's wrong with Judge Khainatskyi

During the court session, Mazepa's lawyer Taras Poshyvaniuk asked to recall the judge of the Pecherskyi District Court, Yevhen Khainatskyi. According to Poshyvaniuk, the defense sees the bias of the investigating judge. The defense received a criminal case for examination at 8 a.m. An hour later, they were informed that the case had reached the Pecherskyi District Court, which had already been scheduled for 12:00 p.m. to choose a preventive measure for Ihor Mazepa. This is very fast, given the fact that the Pecherskyi Court is saturated with a large number of proceedings.

Unraveling the Ihor Mazepa case: political target or land scammer?
Judge Yevhen Hainatskyi (photo – Volodymyr Fomichev/LIGA.net)

Secondly, Yevhen Khainatskyi rejected the request for conducting a live online broadcast of the court sessions online and did not give the defense more time to get acquainted with the materials of the proceedings.

In addition, the defense is concerned that since November 2023, Khainatskyi has several similar proceedings against the owners of houses in the cottage town, which are located next to the plots for which Mazepa was arrested. For many of the defendants, a preventive measure in the form of arrest was chosen, which indicates that the judge already has a certain commitment to similar proceedings.

Who is Ihor Mazepa?

Mazepa is the owner of the investment company Concorde Capital, which provides its clients with a full range of investment and brokerage services, as well as debt restructuring services. Concorde Capital floated Viktor Pinchuk's Interpipe metallurgical company, Vitaliy Antonov's Galnaftogaz concern, Canadian investors' Universalna insurance company, and Anatoliy Yurkevich's Milkiland group of companies.

In addition, Mazepa actively invested in mining. His assets include the gas production company Navigator Mainytske, which produces gas at the Mainytske deposit in Lviv Oblast, and the company Sela Energy, which has a license to supply natural gas.

Mazepa owns the Rybalskyi quarry in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, where there is a large supply of granite, and the Khust quarry in Zakarpattya Oblast. He is the owner of the company Center of Solar Crafts, which is the largest miner of amber in Ukraine, and the enterprise Kryvyi Rih Cement.

Mazepa also has shares in the network of medical clinics Dobrobut, the online cosmetics store MakeUp and the hunting and fishing club Ibis.

Mazepa is the owner of several cottage towns on the east bank of the Kyiv Reservoir.