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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 04.08.2020, 10:36

KNAB investigators raid Riga City Council's entrepreneurship board

BC, Riga, 13.02.2020.Print version
Officers of the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) today raided the premises of Riga City Council's entrepreneurship board, LETA was told at the city hall.

The city council's leadership is informed about the KNAB visit and employees of the entrepreneurship board are cooperating with the investigators, providing all the necessary information, the city council's representatives said.

They said they had no information as to what KNAB was investigating.

Riga Mayor Olegs Burovs (Honor to Serve Riga) indicated that in cooperation with the city's executive director Juris Radzevics, who is the holder of the local government's shares in municipal companies, reforms have been started to overhaul and improve the management of the municipal enterprises.

Burovs is not at the City Hall at the moment.

KNAB representatives told LETA that today the bureau's investigators carried out confiscations at the city council's structural unit. The bureau would not comment on the case as part of which the searchers were conducted and what items were seized in the process.

KNAB representatives said that nobody was detained.

Meanwhile, Latvian Television reported that the KNAB raid on the city council's entrepreneurship board was related to a recently started investigation into suspected falsification of documents at the Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTDB).

As reported, KNAB chief Jekabs Straume confirmed on February 5 that the bureau had initiated a criminal process over alleged falsification of documents based an application by the director of the Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTDB), Guntars Grinvalds.

Grinvalds alleges that documents were falsified at RTDB by a group of persons, including the other RTDB board members - Ieva Lasmane and Janis Jenzis, president of the Latvian Restaurant Association - and Riga Mayor Olegs Burovs, Grinvalds said in a statement.

Grinvalds claims that, even though he has been trying to bring new principles of good governance to RTDB, illegal activities, which had been going on for many years, prevailed, as a result he has become "inconvenient" for the bureau and various shady dealings.

"When I took office as chairman of the RTDB board, it was important for me as a lawyer to ensure that there was no political mobbing, so good governance principles could be brought to the bureau and the bureau's reputation could be restored," said Grinvalds. However, just a couple of months later, hints began to drop, for instance, about reinstatement of the bureau's former head Vita Jermolovica, which was strongly opposed by Grinvalds.

One of the first things Grinvalds did upon taking office as the RTDB board chairman was introduction of a new recruitment procedure to "eliminate all forms of bogus and illegal employment".

"Unfortunately, a few months after the new order was introduced, the other board members were trying to bypass it and sort things out by backdating and falsifying documents, including with the help of Riga mayor and his office. I also approached the Corruption Prevention Bureau about this episode in mid-January this year, and I gave them documents proving this," Grinvalds pointed out.

For instance, documents were falsified to appoint Jenzis the strategic development director of RTDB from an earlier date, for which he was paid salary, even though the contract was never actually signed, Grinvalds said.

Burovs and Jermolovica are from one political party, Honor to Serve Riga, reminds Grinvalds. Furthermore, Lasmane was appointed member of the RTDB board after the Corruption Prevention Bureau's inspections last year', but before that she had been Jermolovica's right-hand woman for ten years. The third board member, Jenzis also worked for Jermolovica for several years, and from 2005 to 2007 he was director at Hotel de Rome, while Jermolovica was CEO at the hotel's parent company, Reho.

Grinvalds also says in the statement that his latest actions may have landed him in trouble and they could even cost him his job.

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