On April 5, the International Criminal Law Forum was held, which brought together about 200 participants, including authorities, prosecutors, representatives of anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies, as well as leading international and Ukrainian experts in the field of criminal law and procedure.

The partner of VB PARTNERS law firm Denys Bugay spoke at the session devoted to criminal proceedings with a foreign element.

Denys elaborated on different types of international cooperation in criminal matters, in particular: extradition, gathering evidence and witness testimony, effecting service of judicial documents, executing searches and seizures, etc.

The expert noted that national law enforcement agencies have recently advanced significantly in the area of international cooperation.

Identification, freezing and tracing proceeds of crime in foreign jurisdictions has become one of the most popular type of the mutual legal assistance. For example, law enforcement agencies successfully seize money on the bank accounts of legal entities and individuals in foreign banks.

Denys Bugay identified two international trends. The first is the principle of “exchange of information without prior request”. Foreign law enforcement agencies transmit information relating to criminal matters to competent authorities in other states on their own initiative without the prior request of the latter. The second is the end of the bank secrecy. The lawyer stressed that international conventions (for example, the UN Convention against Corruption) prohibit states from declining to render mutual legal assistance on the ground of bank secrecy.

The leader in the sphere of international cooperation in Ukraine is the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), which cooperates directly with international organizations, as well as enters into bilateral agreements with law enforcement agencies of other countries in order to exchange information.

Since its foundation, NABU has made approximately 500 requests for assistance, 47% of which were executed. NABU has been contacting 64 countries. Among the TOP-5 of such countries are: (1) Latvia; (2) Cyprus; (3) United Kingdom; (4) Germany and (5) Switzerland. The General Prosecutor’s Office has also significantly strengthened its expertise in gathering evidence abroad, but it is not that effective in their use yet.

Practice has shown that the number of requests for international legal assistance increases annually and its formats are becoming more diverse.

Law enforcement agencies actively use international cooperation as an effective tool for gathering evidence. The world has become more transparent and it is impossible to “hide” beyond the national borders!