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The Buzz in Ukraine: Interview with Valentyn Gvozdiy of Golaw

The Buzz in Ukraine: Interview with Valentyn Gvozdiy of Golaw

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“Ukraine is gradually returning to normal operations,” says Valentyn Gvozdiy, Managing Partner at Golaw in Kyiv, but he admits the preceding period has been difficult. “Most companies had to face many challenges of finding new ways to work in a short time span. Closing of industries and venues, self-isolations and lockdowns, strict bans on business activities, and public events were important measures needed to prevent and fight this virus. However, experienced managers understand the situation and fortunately knew how to cope with the issues that arose with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Gvozdiy reports that, even though there were many challenges to face and little time to organize, successful solutions were found to help conditions return to normal as fast as possible. The Ukrainian Parliament approved anti-crisis measures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak to stabilize the economy. During the last few months, Ukrainian state authorities adopted and implemented specific laws and decrees aiming to prove benefits both for businesses and individuals, involving such areas as taxes and fees, tax audits, сorporate management, court proceedings, and leases.

“The current high-priority goal for the Government is to enforce a regulatory framework that provides meaningful social and economic support to people and businesses to recover from the crisis," Gvozdiy says. "The measures already taken by the Government include an increase of income limits for single taxpayers, VAT exemption from the importation into and supply within Ukraine of medicines, medical devices, and equipment necessary to fight COVID-19. The list of tax audits, which may be carried out during quarantine, was expanded regarding such activities as accounting, licensing, production, storage, transportation of fuel, etc.”

Gvozdiy is enthusiastic about some of the technological tools that have appeared during this period. “Adjustments were also made to corporate governance," he says. "Corporate management in the future will mostly be carried out using electronic systems, which will allow companies to continue providing business as usual. The National Securities and Stock Market Commission developed and introduced a temporary procedure for convening remote general meetings of joint-stock companies and corporate investment funds. Convening and holding remote meetings is to be carried out using electronic services and the depository system based on an agreement to be concluded between the issuer and the National Depository. This technological platform ensures the appropriate level of security of information transmitted through the depository system, as well as confirmation of the credentials of the shareholders in the process of holding remote meetings with an electronic signature."

According to Gvozdiy, "holding general meetings remotely is a right, not an obligation, of joint-stock companies and corporate investment funds. Companies may refrain from holding a general meeting during quarantine and hold it till the quarantine ends up. The platform meets international standards and a high level of team competencies, as well as creates a new service for remote voting to ensure a high level of continuous corporate governance while at the same time data protection.”

Even so, sighing, Gvozdiy says that the crisis has proved to be a tough test for local companies, which have struggled to keep up. Still, he is confident that the Government has taken swift steps to provide necessary solutions with minimal harmful effects on the Ukrainian economy. "The most important thing for the Ukrainian economy nowadays," he says, "is to continue cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and other international partners to have an opportunity to finance the budget deficit and refinance current debt."

“The reduction of costs is one of the ways the Government is rescuing the economy from high inflation and not to lose the investors,” he says. “I think this mechanism will eventually work. It’s always hard to find investors in such conditions, but we are happy to see that many companies from the EU – especially from Germany— are still able to work and that their managers can combat challenges successfully.

The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, recently announced that Ukraine is on its way out of the crisis, but extending the quarantine until June 22nd, 2020. According to Gvozdiy, the way out of the quarantine has been divided into five stages. “Two of stages have already begun,” says Gvozdiy, “but the next three are not set specifically in terms of dates. Anyway, the Government has allowed shops, shopping centers, and community services to start working again.” Gvozdiy adds that “we still need to speed up the recovery process and search for new opportunities within the market. The most important thing, as always, is to continue attracting new investors, anybody who’s willing to finance Ukrainian industries.”

Gvozdiy concludes, optimistically, that “at the end of the day, the situation won’t be as catastrophic as we once thought. The strongest businesses will survive, and because the state authorities took everything into account, I think that eventually we will recover the economy in a normal way.”

GOLAW at a Glance

GOLAW is one of the leading Ukrainian full-service law firms. The firm was founded in 2003 and currently has offices in Kyiv (Ukraine) and Berlin (Germany). The lawyers of the firm are widely recognised for their skills and extensive expertise. GOLAW’s team focuses on efficiently resolving issues facing the clients, communicating effectively on their behalf, assisting them in navigating the nuances of Ukrainian law, and avoiding costly legal traps.

The client portfolio of the firm includes large and medium-sized, national and foreign companies, banks and financial institutions, as well as private investors doing business in Ukraine or entering local markets. GOLAW provides sophisticated legal advice and reliable legal assistance in all major sectors, including agribusiness, retail and FMCG, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, financial services, energy and natural resources, transportation and infrastructure, internet technology, and real estate. Areas of practice: GOLAW developed a top-tier tax practice which includes issues concerning tax functioning in Ukraine, strategic advice on tax planning, tax and fiscal controls, as well as professional contacts with the tax authorities at all levels. The firm represents its clients in dispute resolution and litigation in general, economic and administrative courts of all levels, along with support for international commercial disputes. The deep expertise in white-collar defence and investigations allows GOLAW attorneys to successfully represent clients in criminal legal proceedings, advising them on the wider commercial, regulatory and image implications when there are allegations of fraud or corruption.

GOLAW professionals advise clients across the broad spectrum of corporate work including M&A, joint ventures and corporate restructuring, as well as general commercial, antitrust and corporate governance issues. The effective combination of transactional skills combined with unique expertise including antitrust, employment, environmental, intellectual property and taxation, enables the firm to handle the issues that can arise from any single corporate transaction. In banking and finance, the firm successfully represents clients regardless of whether it is a trade, export, finance deal, M&A, or any other financial project; it also provides advice on civil, banking and currency laws. The firm is a leader in representing financial services institutions in contentious insolvency and regulatory matters. The firm’s team of lawyers utilises unrivalled local knowledge of the demands of operating in increasingly international and volatile markets, with a deep understanding of the issues impacting the energy and natural resources sectors.

Clients of the firm are involved in commodities, power, oil and gas, nuclear, mining, metals and minerals, renewable and clean-technology energy industries. GOLAW covers the full range of labour and employment matters, including: whistleblower litigation, labour-management relations, benefits, collective agreements, and employment of foreign citizens.

Firm's website.