The modern game of competition: Fair methods not to use

The unfolding of the scandalous story associated with the leading security company SHERIFF began with the publication of a commissioned article in February 2024, which contained accusations of violations in the provision of security services. The allegations in this article, based on an “investigation” by the NGO “NACIONALNA KOGORTA” sparked a wave of parliamentary inquiries and even a criminal investigation. But are all these steps the result of real violations, or is it just part of a sophisticated strategy?

In 2023, SHERIFF, the leading company in the security industry, participated in competitive bidding for the provision of security services to a state-owned enterprise through the Prozorro system. On October 23 of the same year, the company SHERIFF, which is part of this holding, won the tender. Obtaining access to information about whom the state enterprise cooperated with through Prozorro is very difficult. However, we have a copy of the contract signed at the beginning of 2023 between the Regional Representation of the State Enterprise and LLC “VENBEST-Security.” This document is just one of many contracts concluded throughout Ukraine.

According to the information available to us, “VENBEST-Security,” owned by Georgiy Tupchiy, is actively conducting an aggressive campaign against SHERIFF with the aim of displacing them from the security services market and creating a monopoly.

The modern game of competition: Fair methods not to use

The founders of “VENBEST-Security” are the company “VENBEST SECURITY LIMITED,” registered in Cyprus, and LLC, also created by Cypriots. In 2015, Tupchiy claimed that VENBEST SECURITY is his company, and the re-registration is related to investments from other organizations. Adding to the suspicions is the fact that the director of the Cypriot company is JF NOMINEE SERVICES LIMITED, and the secretary is JF SECRETARIAL SERVICES LIMITED. A little deeper investigation reveals that Nektarios Stavrinidou and Joseph Frangos are in the management of these companies, who are associated not with anything but with Cypriot firms that are part of the business group of Valeriy Pysarenko, none other than one of the close associates of the former deputy head of the administration of President Yanukovych.

Interestingly, “VENBEST-Security” repeatedly receives orders without competition and even receives more than stipulated in the contract. According to the internal audit of PrivatBank in 2020, over three years, “VENBEST” received an excessive amount of 4.3 million hryvnias.

Moreover, employees of the firm “Yavir-2000,” friends, and colleagues of Tupchiy, have been involved in non-competitive actions against SHERIFF. “Yavir-2000” uses equipment from the company Hikvision, which operates on Russian software TRASSIR. The Poltava City Council plans to replace this equipment due to its potential danger. But for now, in the third year of the war, local residents are being “protected” using Russian-Chinese technology.

Timeline of Events:

February 28, 2024: A commissioned article appeared in the yellow press, accusing SHERIFF of violations in the provision of security services under a tender won by a State Enterprise. The investigation behind this article was conducted by the NGO “National Cohort,” registered at the same address as the companies of Ukrainian citizen Vladiko Sergey Viktorovich. This entrepreneur owns several companies in the Khmelnytskyi region, including LLC “Business Security Service” and “Private Investigation Bureau.” Before becoming a businessman, Vladiko worked as a deputy head of the department of the State Police Department of Ukraine in the Khmelnytskyi region, from which he resigned in 2018. Interestingly, another security company emerges.

Almost entirely copying the text of this article, Ukrainian MP Mykola Halushko sent dozens of parliamentary inquiries to law enforcement agencies in various regions of Ukraine.

February 29, 2024: The Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine initiated a criminal investigation (No. 42024260000000034) against the SHERIFF based on information from the article and parliamentary inquiries by Halushko M.

Then began an advertising campaign (12345678910) to promote the article through the internet and publications on commissioned Facebook resources, supported by a group of bot commentators.

March 5, 2024: Another article appeared, accusing the founder of the holding, Dmitry Stryzhov and members of his family. This article was deleted, and the information in it was refuted.

April 10, 2024: The Bureau of Economic Security conducted searches in Chernivtsi and initiated cases in the Territorial Directorate of the State Bureau of Investigation in Khmelnytskyi, the Territorial Administration of the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine in Kyiv, and the Pechersk Police Department of the Main Department of the National Police in Kyiv.

April 11, 2024: Information was received from sources in law enforcement agencies that the organizer of the order for checking the fulfillment of tender obligations could be a person named Tupchiy.

These events indicate a connection between the commissioned article, parliamentary inquiries, the opening of criminal investigations, and possible pressure on law enforcement agencies. Such activity, covering various regions and resulting in a large number of open cases, can be interpreted as a strategic redistribution of cases to overload law enforcement agencies and delay the start of investigations. This well-known scheme since the 1990s involves creating high-profile precedents, opening criminal cases, and their widespread dissemination. The more cases opened, the longer the process of their consideration. During this time, further manipulation of information can create a negative image for the accused. Thus, instead of fair market competition, we observe selective use of law enforcement agencies to eliminate competitors and create an artificial monopoly.

SHERIFF declares its readiness to provide all necessary information for the investigation, confirming its innocence in all incriminated cases.

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