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Vitol agrees to elect Olafs Berkis and Olegs Stepanovs into Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 26.07.2012.Print version
The fact that Ventspils millionaires – Olafs Berkis, Olegs Stepanovs, Igors Skoks and Genadijs Sevcovs – have been elected into Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council clearly shows that the international concern Vitol is yielding to the interests of these Latvian oligarchs, informed BC Ventbunkers/LNT representative Aivars Gobins.

The decision taken in the July 25 shareholders meeting once again confirms that Vitol still easily enters into doubtful transactions as when the company signed a secret contract with the accused Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs and his associates. The deal was carried out back in the autumn of 2006 and it concerned privatization of Ventspils Nafta.


Vitol's willingness to ensure Western corporate governance standards in AS Ventspils Nafta and AS Latvian Shipping Company turns out to be just empty talk. By supporting replacement of Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council, Vitol cooperates with a group that uses criminal methods. Besides, the move also means pushing aside the state of Latvia from any control over Ventspils Nafta. The Swiss attorney Rudolf Meroni manages Latvia's interest in the seized property secretly owned by Lembergs.

Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs have unlawfully taken hold of the right to manage AS Ventspils Nafta's shareholder AS Latvijas naftas tranzits and its parent company AS Ventbunkers. To do that they made use of lies and political forces willing to do everything to please their sponsors, even via illegal means.


All the decisions that allow the mentioned persons to control AS Ventbunkers and AS Latvijas naftas tranzits have been challenged at Latvian courts, reported BC A. Gobins.


Rudolf Meroni is the only lawful AS Ventbunkers and AS Latvijas naftas tranzits Chairman of the Supervisory Council. He has already drawn the attention of a number of top Latvian officials to the growing popularity of raiding in Ventspils business. Meanwhile, Ventspils millionaires are openly using criminal methods to take over AS Ventbunkers and AS Latvijas naftas tranzits.


Under the oligarchs' rule, these companies' money has been squandered via a variety of schemes that have pushed the state into millions of losses. Allegedly, the scams have been backed by the political elite that is supposed to be working in the public interest.


Also, Latvian state officials have been too slow to act – Berkis and his associates' raiding practice is spreading. Although unlawful take-over of a company is a criminal offense in the Western corporate practice, the international concern Vitol appears to support it. This contradicts the company's statement that it entered Latvia to work honestly and transparently.


Rudolf Meroni reminds that Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs were Lembergs' associates in the years long embezzlement in AS Ventspils Nafta. Via a network of schemes, their offshore bank accounts were transferred millions of dollars that were supposed to stay with AS Ventspils Nafta. The money should have reached the state budget and all the company's shareholders.


Under Lembergs lead, the same persons also "lent a helping hand" in defrauding the Latvian Shipping Company out of money back in 2002. Back then, millions of dollars were directed away from the company via fake freight contracts. The ongoing litigation in Britain and the rulings made there prove this.


Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs were working as officials in Ventspils companies for years, meaning they were serving Lembergs by carrying out various scams. Today it seems that those times are back again. To keep defrauding Latvia out of money, they have once again joined forces and corruption is thriving in Latvia.


The fact that Vitol, AS Ventspils Nafta majority shareholder, yields to the interests of the group confirms that it is nothing more than a company gladly willing to give in to selfish interests of deceitful millionaires.


AS Ventbunkers also reminds that the offshore companies Steropes Limited and Gyges Limited, whose true beneficiaries are Skoks and Sevcovs, claim to own 29% of AS Ventbunkers (via false Yelverton Investment documents). In fact, neither Steropes Limited nor Gyges Limited have ever been Ventbunkers shareholders. They were used exclusively for hiding 2007 dealings from the eye of the State Revenue Service and the Latvian public. Back then, Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs sold AS Ventbunkers and its influence in AS Ventspils Nafta for 200 million dollars.

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