July 12, 2018 / 1:58 PM / a year ago

Ukraine MPs back corruption court law amendment in bid for IMF aid

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s parliament approved an amendment to an anti-corruption court law on Thursday in an effort to secure more funding under a $17.5 billion aid-for-reforms program from the International Monetary Fund.

After months of delay, a law to create an independent court dedicated to handling graft cases was adopted in June, but the IMF wanted changes so that appeals to existing corruption cases were under the new court’s jurisdiction.

Speaking before the vote in parliament, several lawmakers said the amendment was fully in line with the IMF’s requirements, although this could not immediately be verified and similar pronouncements have fallen short in the past.

“The amendment is very simple,” opposition member of parliament Yegor Sobolev said, explaining the legislation would mean that all current and future corruption cases would be handled by the court.

The law is meant to ring-fence court decisions from political pressure or bribery in Ukraine, where entrenched corruption remains a deterrent to foreign investors and knocks two percentage points off Ukraine’s economic growth each year, according to the IMF.

A failure to pass the amendment would have further delayed the reform as this is parliament’s last week in session before the summer recess.

Establishing the court, adjusting gas prices and honoring budget commitments are conditions to unlock the next loan tranche under the IMF program, which expires next year.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Matthias Williams, Gareth Jones and David Stamp

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