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American lawyer considered for Ukraine anti-corruption post

Last week in Ukraine, the Rada (parliament) chose an auditor for the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.  A surprising finalist in the selection process was an American lawyer.

When the Rada eventually chose its candidate, Vladimir Vasilenko, the former Ambassador to the UK, was selected.

But the other finalist recommended by the Rada Anti-Corruption Committee for consideration by the full Rada was Tom Firestone.

The final vote in the Rada was 289 for Vasilenko and 208 for Firestone.

According to reports, some local anti-corruption activists considered Vasilenko to be a “pocket” candidate of the establishment and were disappointed by the selection.

Others in Ukraine were encouraged that Firestone, an independent foreign lawyer with DOJ connections, was seriously considered for the post.

Firestone spent 14 years at the Justice Department, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York and then as the Resident Legal Adviser and Acting Chief of the Law Enforcement Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He’s now a partner in the DC office of Baker & McKenzie.

By statute, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is required to be reviewed annually to make sure it’s working efficiently and impartially. 

The audit is to be conducted by a panel of three auditors — one selected by the Rada, one selected by the President, and one selected by the Cabinet of Ministers. 

The selection process under the 2015 anti-corruption legislation has been politically controversial and no panel has been appointed and no audit has been conducted.

This year, the Cabinet of Ministers previously made its choice and now it is up to the President to make his designation to complete the audit panel.

Firestone has co-authored posts for the FCPA Blog about Ukraine’s anti-corruption regime and reform efforts there.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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1 Comment

  1. Consideration of Tom Firestone for the National Anti-Corruption Bureau gives strong and surprising evidence of some true reform in Ukraine, despite the many indications of late to the contrary. Tom Firestone possesses exceptional professional and personal integrity, independence and courage and reflects a genuine effort by the Rafa to ensure the true independence and impartiality of the NABU, and a transparent government accountable to the people of Ukraine.

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