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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 27.05.2018, 08:16

New chief of KNAB: Decision to close "oligarch case" was substantiated

BC, Riga, 19.06.2017.Print version
e decision to close the so-called oligarch case was substantiated, Jekabs Straume, the new chief of the Latvian Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB), said on the LNT commercial television today, informed LETA.

He said that what had happened to this criminal case was "very sad" because there were indications of very serious crimes and even state capture but the anti-corruption bureau had failed to obtain enough evidence for prosecution, partly due to the leakage of information about the investigation.

Now it is up to the prosecutor's office to decide whether the case could and should be re-opened, Straume said, adding that the decision to close the oligarch case had been substantiated.

He is determined to improve the KNAB performance so that the next time they started a similar high-profile case it would end with convictions.

The new KNAB chief said there was no need to fully dismantle the organization to improve its work and adjustments to certain aspects of its operations would suffice. But he pointed out that he had been in office only for a day-and-a-half therefore he could not give a detailed assessment of the KNAB performance for now.

Straume suggested that the KNAB should focus on major cases, leaving the small fry to other law enforcement agencies.

As reported, the KNAB closed the so-called oligarch case in December 2016 because of the lack of constituent elements of a criminal offense. The oligarch case was opened in May 2011. The case deals with bribery, money laundering, misuse of power and other crimes.

There were eleven persons involved in the case originally. The KNAB carried out searches in various locations across Latvia, including at several influential politicians' properties - Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs' property in Puze, at the Riga City Council and Freeport of Riga Authority, offices of company Uznemumu Vadiba un Konsultacijas that belonged to the family of the former People's Party leader Andris Skele, Mediju Nams publishing house, and offices of Viesturs Koziols who at that time owned the controlling interest in the joint-stock company Diena.

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