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Deal 5: Delta Wilmar Ukraine's Anna Lazurenko on Dispute with Ukraine's State Environmental Inspectorate

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On November 2, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Hillmont Partners had successfully defended the interests of Delta Wilmar Ukraine in a dispute with the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine. CEEIHM spoke with Anna Lazurenko, Chief Legal Officer at Delta Wilmar, to learn more about the dispute.

CEEIHM: Please tell us about Delta Wilmar Ukraine.

Anna: Delta Wilmar Ukraine LLC is a unique combination of the sunflower and tropical oils market. The company includes two plants – one for processing tropical oils and another for processing oilseeds – as well as a complex for vegetable oils transshipment in the Yuzhny port. All of these plants are located in the Novi Bilyary village, 30 kilometers away from the city of Odessa.

Since 2004, our company has been operating in the food industry and producing oil-and-fat products and ingredients for bakeries, confectioneries, and dairy production plants. We cooperate with reliable partners all over Ukraine and are one of the largest exporters to Europe. Delta Wilmar Ukraine and its partner companies form a vertically integrated production system – from raw materials processing to finished product marketing.

CEEIHM: According to Hillmont Partners, “the State Environmental Inspectorate accused Delta Wilmar Ukraine of violating the norms set by environmental legislation.” What were the alleged violations?

Anna: Failure to mitigate the prescriptions issued by the State Environmental Inspectorate following its inspection of the company's activities in September 2018. The strictest of these prescriptions was the requirement to obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment report with respect to oil cargo equipment at berth number 4 of the Yuzhny branch of the Administration of Sea Ports of Ukraine. 

CEEIHM: What were the main arguments put forward in your defense?

Anna: The argument as a part of our defense was the availability of the Environmental Impact Assessment report and the absence of legal grounds to stop the plant operation. It’s necessary to mention that Hillmont Partners provided us with the main support within the third instance court procedure and managed to suspend the decision of the court of appeal and succeeded in persuading the court of the third instance to pay attention to the procedural infractions that took place in the two first instances.

CEEIHM: How has this two-year-long dispute with the regulator affected your business?

Anna: This long dispute actually didn’t affect our business since the order of the State Environmental Inspectorate was suspended until the final court decision. We were, however, prepared for any outcome. The list of requirements from the prescriptions of the ecological service has been fulfilled and, to the best of our knowledge, there were no grounds based on which to stop the business operations of our company even in case of a negative court decision.

CEEIHM: What were the main considerations for choosing to work with Hillmont Partners on this case? 

Anna: We know Hillmont Partners as a high-level law firm with a strong team experienced in litigation with state bodies, and we relied on their professionalism in such issues.

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