Corrupt Ukrainian Prosecutor Lives Life of Luxury in Bulgaria

Nikolay Marchenko

The family of one of Ukraine’s most corrupt young prosecutors, the former Kyiv District Prosecutor Sergey Nechiporenko, caught red-handed with a USD 150,000 bribe, owns at least three luxury properties in Bulgaria. This is revealed by an investigation by the Ukrainian office of Radio Free Europe (RFE) – Radio Liberty with assistance by Bivol. RFE Ukraine published a detailed text and photo report on its site, as well as a video aired by the TV show “Schemes: Corruption in detail” on the national TV channel Pershyi. The investigation, which has garnered over 100,000 views on YouTube alone, is titled: “Send me behind bars if you can, a carefree life after being locked up for bribery”.

Nearly half of the investigation is devoted to the real estate of Nechiporenko’s ex-wife and mother-in-law in Bulgaria. To this end, Schemes’ editorial office approached Bivol with a request for assistance.

Bivol’s team uncovered a number of properties of the family in the capital Sofia, the Black Sea city of Burgas and the St. Vlas beach resort, for which we obtained not only documents but also captured photo and video footage with a drone. In the section, “Bulgarian Properties of the Prosecutor’s Family” the Ukrainian media describes the posh apartments of Nechiporenko’s family in Bulgaria.

Burgas, St. Vlas, Sofia…

RFE Ukraine recalls that since the beginning of 2000s Burgas has gained “popularity among wealthy Russians and other citizens of the former Soviet Union who are acquiring property in this Bulgarian city.”

“Nechiporenko’s family has owned a unit in one of the new apartment buildings near the Black Sea coast in Burgas since 2015.”

The buyer of the property located in a gated development with a playground and swimming pool is Galina Orehova, the mother of the prosecutor’s ex-wife Irina Orehova.

The Ukrainian media quotes data obtained by Bivol from the Bulgarian Property Register showing that Galina Orehova has acquired an apartment of 50 square meters with a parking space in a luxury gated development with an estimated value of over EUR 28,000.

Two years later, in 2017, the mother-in-law bought another apartment in Bulgaria.

“Journalists found another property of the former prosecutor located 40 km from Sunny Beach, in the small resort town of Sv. Vlas.”

Since 2015, Nechiporenko’s family has acquired three apartments, all of them waterfront properties, no more than 50 meters from the Black Sea coast. The first two apartments have a total area of 152 square meters and the third has an area of 45 square meters. The buyer of all three is Galina Orehova, the prosecutor’s mother-in-law. At that time, Nechiporenko and Irina Orehova had not yet been officially divorced.

Just two days later, Nechiporenko’s mother-in-law donated the smaller apartment to her daughter Irina. Two years later, the prosecutor’s already former wife became the owner of two more apartments of 30 square meters each. According to Schemes and Bivol, the value of these properties is at least EUR 88,000.

In the meantime, the team of Schemes found information that prosecutor Nechiporenko, who had paid a bail guarantee at the request of the court, had received his international passport back. Because of this, they were also able to check his flights and establish that many of them had been to Bulgaria, where his “ex” wife had been living for five years.

“So, it turns out that the separation was only necessary for the court authorities to demonstrate that Nechiporenko has lost some of the property…?”

This is the rhetorical question of the Ukrainian office of RFE.

“This does not put end to the geography of the investigated prosecutor’s acquisitions in Bulgaria. Together with the investigative journalists of Bivol.bg, Schemes found another posh apartment in a luxury quarter of the Bulgarian capital Sofia with a total area of 270 square meters,” the investigation adds.

The Ukrainian journalists explain that the apartment is in a residential development named “Stella Boyana”, overlooking the Vitosha Mountain near Sofia and the popular tourist attraction Boyanski Waterfall.

According to open data, the prices of apartments in this residential development start at EUR 1,200 per square meter.

“In 22015, Galina Orehova has been listed once again as the owner of the apartment and a garage of 60 square meters. The mother-in-law has bought the property a month before Nechiporenko’s scandalous arrest. According to information from the Property Registry of the Republic of Bulgaria, she has paid over EUR 175,700,” RFE in Ukraine writes.

Modest income, huge appetite…

The Ukrainian media asks whether Galina Orehova could have paid for these properties by herself.
The answer is that the officially declared income of the mother-in-law and her son-in-law together would not be enough to buy such real estate.

The journalists in Kyiv say that according to Ukrainian tax data, the prosecutor’s mother-in-law has earned about EUR 21,000 in the last 15 years.

Schemes’ reporters have attempted to contact Galina Orehova by phone to ask questions about her properties in Ukraine and Bulgaria. Of course, she has not answered the call.

“Maybe her daughter helped with the money?”

The answer, in this case, is once again no.

Data about Irina Orehova’s official income over the last 17 years, obtained by the Ukrainian journalists, show that she has earned about EUR 140,000. The prosecutor’s ex-wife has not answered phone calls as well.

The Ukrainian media is adamant that the evidence collected is sufficient to make the reasonable assumption that Nechiporenko’s story is a classic example of how a family of an investigated prosecutor acquires real estate all over Ukraine and abroad for a value exceeding their official income.

“And these are expensive houses and posh apartments in Kyiv and Sofia, expensive cars and even a lavish seaside hotel in Odesa.”

RFE Ukraine goes into more detail, showing that in addition to the apartments in Kyiv and Odesa, the family owns a huge house in a luxury villa area near the Ukrainian capital. Their fleet includes luxury SUVs such as a Mercedes and a Toyota. There is footage of the prosecutor arriving in the Toyota SUV to one of the court hearings in his case.

Viktor Yanukovych’s legacy

“I don’t want to answer your questions,” the “successful” prosecutor repeats stubbornly in front of Schemes’ camera.

Five years ago, a special police force filmed Nechiporenko on camera in the act of receiving a bribe of USD 150,000 in cash for settling a dispute over municipal properties in downtown Kyiv and then detained him.

RFE Ukraine also revealed that Irina Orehova, with whom the top prosecutor was in the process of divorce, is most likely the out-of-wedlock daughter of one of Ukraine’s gray cardinals during the term in office of now-ousted fugitive Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych. Nechiporenko’s father-in-law, Sergey Kivalov, was not only the Dean of the Odessa State University but also an influential lawmaker from the ruling Party of the Regions at the time.

Kivalov has also been Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine in the years when he has been close to Viktor Yanukovych. According to a number of Ukrainian media, a young person from Odesa, like Nechiporenko, could have been appointed to lead the prosecutor’s office in a wealthy central district of Kyiv only with such high patronage. At the time of his appointment, Nechiporenko became known as the youngest person among the judiciary to hold such a leadership post.

RFE Ukraine’s investigation is yet another proof that Ukraine’s judicial system has failed to cope with Yanukovych’s corruption legacy years after the Maidan protests. It turns out that at the end of 2019 Nechiporenko’s bail had been drastically reduced from EUR 105,000 to only EUR 5,622. The prosecutor’s defense had managed to convince the court that the money had not belonged to their client but had been deposited by his former mother-in-law and it would be appropriate for Nechiporenko to receive it back.

The evidence by Schemes’ team that the spouse of the judge in the case against Nechiporenko had once worked as an assistant to the defendant in the prosecutor’s office of the Podolsky district failed to move the judges.
According to them, the outrageous decision to reduce the bail and not to impose a ban on leaving the country on Nechiporenko had been a “gesture by colleagues”.

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