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How the Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" earned tens of millions... with the help of big bags

ZN.UA Document
How the Energy Generating Company © Энергоатом

Since the summer of last year, when terrorists began shelling Ukrainian energy facilities, one of the popular products on Prozorro, which is a public electronic procurement system, has been big bags. (see Fig. 1)  large cubic bags that are filled with sand and equipped with ground-based energy facilities to protect them from shrapnel lesions. The program of journalistic investigations exposing corruption schemes of Ukrainian officials called "Our money is with Denys Bihus" analyzed the largest purchases and revealed an interesting trend. As soon as the word "Energoatom" appears in the customer's name, the purchase price of big bags soars, doubles, and sometimes even quadruples. However, in spite of this, the National Power Company "Ukrenergo", which bought them at the market price, received criminal proceedings for the price of big bags. Well, punishing an innocent company is something interesting.

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The State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC), the NPP operator, and the National Power Company "Ukrenergo", the power system operator, spent the largest sums on big bags. It is quite logical that they have the largest number of objects in need of protection (see Fig. 2). However, the gap in purchase prices is illogical. Currently, the market price of big bags fluctuates around UAH 250–300 per piece. At the height of the shelling, during the frenetic demand, the price increased by about 30% – up to UAH 300-400. But the price will rise above UAH 500, except for resellers and the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) (let the local deviation of "Lvivteploenergo" KP (UKRAINE) on purchases of less than UAH 1 million remain on the conscience of Andriy Sadovyi). According to ZN.UA, DTEK, which is the largest private investor in the energy industry in Ukraine and "Euro-Reconstruction" LLC, for example, also bought big bags much cheaper than UAH 500.

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The record price of the big bag appeared in the contract for the installation of protective structures of the South Ukraine NPP in the March contract with a total cost of UAH 31 million. As it turned out, in the local estimate, almost half of the money under the contract, UAH 14 million, was laid down specifically for the purchase of big bags at UAH 3,029 per piece (see Fig. 3). If we assume that the average market price even among resellers in March was UAH 400, then the margin on big bags amounted to UAH 12 million.

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Maybe the big bags of the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) are somehow special? An attentive reader must have noticed in fig. 2, that the employees of the nuclear plant are the only ones who do not specify the size of the big bags they buy. And if they need big bags that are twice, three times, or ten times larger? We checked – it was not confirmed. Below is a screenshot from the appendix to the same March contract for "Creation of temporary artificial protective structures of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant" in the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk, in the Mykolaiv region. There the price of big bags is several times higher than the average market price. The screenshot (see Fig. 4) clearly shows the capacity of the big bag – 1.5 tons, which fully corresponds to the standard dimensions of 90x90x145 cm.

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Even with the most diverse variations in the size and density of the filler, a 1.5-ton bag is neither seven times nor twice as large as a standard one.

Okay, let's say we're talking about the price of a bag already filled with sand. Let's look at the estimate (Fig. 3): sand – 288 UAH/ton, or 450 for each big bag, add the average market value of the big bag itself of 400 UAH, it turns out 850 UAH per piece, by no means three thousand. So, even taking into account the cost of sand, the margin of this purchase of 14 million hryvnias amounted to over 10 million hryvnias, and the cost was inflated almost four times. And note that the cost of the big bag itself is very generous, if you compare it with the purchases of the same National Power Company "Ukrenergo", one and a half ton bags of sand cost no more than UAH 750.

According to the laws of the genre, if there is an "interesting" contract, there must also be an "interesting" contractor, i.e. the second party, without whom embezzlement of public money would be impossible. Well, at least the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) does not violate the laws of the genre. As well as, their "interesting" contractor, namely the seller of big bags the "Energoprombud" LLC.

For reference. According to the YouControl system, the "Energoprombud" LLC is part of the "Corporation Buhski Karyery" of Matvii and Anastasia Yasenitski. Serhiy Buchko, who worked at the South Ukrainian NPP in the 2000s, was previously associated with the activities of this group.

For example, in February, nuclear workers concluded an agreement with the "Energoprombud" LLC worth UAH 335 million, of which UAH 41 million was intended for the purchase of cables. As it turned out, the price of the cables was overestimated by 2.6 times, and after a public scandal, nuclear workers decided to terminate the agreement.

By the way, this is a unique case when the scandal led to the termination of a large contract between the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) and the "Energoprombud" LLC. Unfortunately, many important events and decision-making take place invisibly. And the cooperation between the "Energoprombud" LLC and the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) is more than fruitful and effective.

Let's simply compare the effectiveness of the company's participation in state procurement: 20 million UAH in 2021, 156.6 million in 2022, and 419 million UAH for the incomplete half of 2023. It's unbelievable how lucky it started. It is also worth noting that all contracts, coincidentally, are with the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) or its divisions.

So it is not surprising that after the first scandals, information about purchases between nuclear workers and the "Energoprombud" LLC began to be hidden.

The "Anti-Corruption Center" turned to the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) with a request to provide local estimates from the contract with the "Energoprombud" LLC for the repair of one of the nuclear power units at a price of UAH 81 million. But the nuclear workers refused to do this (see Fig. 5), because they and the contractor "determined" that all information related to their contracts and additional agreements is confidential. It turns out that it was possible to do so.

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Unfortunately, this legal know-how from the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) fits perfectly into the general outline of actions of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine to keep its activities secret. The editorial office has a March order signed by Minister Herman Halushchenko on full confidentiality of information. Please note that even those documents sent to the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine with the label "commercial secret" are recognized as "official information" (see Fig. 6). So, government officials perfectly understand the importance and meaning of this information, although they are afraid to show it to the public.

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Also, Minister of Energy of Ukraine Herman Halushchenko undertook to personally judge what information "may cause significant damage to the reputation and rights of other persons", "contribute to riots", and to determine, according to criteria known only to him, whether the public interest will outweigh the harm from the publication of some data.

At the same time, the public reaction to the exposure of any abuses in the energy industry by Minister of Energy of Ukraine Herman Halushchenko is standard. Namely, he usually claims that an informational attack has been carried out on us again! Then there is silence, even if, as a result of the "informational attack", the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities begins an investigation. Thus, in response to this story, the maximum reaction will be another report about an audacious information attack.

In addition, the reaction of the relevant ministry is not so interesting as the law enforcement system, which is already participating in the game.

It would seem that the law enforcement officers have obvious grounds for a careful study of the purchases of the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC), well, at least in relation to big bags. However, domestic politicians know how to surprise.

According to information from a source in the National Power Company "Ukrenergo", in March, the Police Department in Shevchenkivskiy District of the Main Department of the National Police in Kyiv began an investigation into the purchase of big bags under corruption article 191 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine by the National Power Company "Ukrenergo"! Oh yes, precisely for those contracts where the state-owned company received the lowest prices in Ukraine. Tatarov's supporters have already threatened Ukrainian energy workers with searches and started summoning them for questioning.

So, it is probably worth mentioning once again the persistent desire of Halushchenko's group and their Office of the President of Ukraine curators with the help of Tatarov's security forces to force Volodymyr Kudrytskyi out of the National Power Company "Ukrenergo", who did not understand all the connotations of the word "constructive" in the context of the multimillion-dollar tenders of the state company entrusted to him. But these "high motives" were not the only ones that could bring the National Police of Ukraine to the National Power Company "Ukrenergo".

We started with the fact that the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company "Energoatom" (SE NNEGC) and the National Power Company "Ukrenergo" are the main buyers of big bags. It is clear that the price at which buys them is incredibly disturbing to people who, for no objective reason, left the margin with six zeroes. The scheme can live absolutely peacefully as long as the state's energy facilities are in potential danger: the need for them is always justified, and the funds will always be found. And this price benchmark from the National Power Company "Ukrenergo" spoils everything. An ugly girl definitely does not need a beautiful girlfriend.

In this way, the criminal investigation, agree, is a clear hint that it is time to curtail all these market practices, which so unfavorably highlight the non-market prices of energy colleagues.

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