Wife of Saeima MP held in major tax evasion probe

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Gaļina Karmača, the wife of Saeima member Sergejs Potapkins (Harmony) was detained by the state Financial Police (FP) Thursday in light of her alleged connection to a tax evasion scheme uncovered at the restaurant chain Gan Bei. Altogether seven persons are being held in connection with the affair.

Karmača, who is the financial director at the company Lage Ko, which owns the Gan Bei and other restaurant franchises, is being held under suspicion for being one of the core masterminds of an organized crime group that rigged cash register accounting software to avoid paying up to €800,000 a month in duties to state tax authorities.

Two persons connected with the firm providing the programming, allegedly through individualized flash-drives that rigged each cash register separately to allow for money to be taken out without appearing on the accounts, are also being sought by authorities. Estimates suggest it may have been skimming up to half of the company’s monthly turnover.

Public records show that the firm BRIOEngineerinG provides integrated turnkey cash register software solutions, listing among their clients Lage Ko and the Gan Bei restaurants. However, representatives of the company no longer responded to phone calls after Latvian Public Radio attempted to contact owner Gorgijs Makejevs and board member Raimonds Zeltiņš for comment.

The creators of the ‘darkware’ may have established a network that extends beyond just the Gan Bei chain of oriental eateries, which are popular at shopping mall food courts.

State Revenue Service (VID) deputy general director Kaspars Čerņeckis could not rule out the possibility that other food service firms, hotels and stores might also be using the ‘darkware’ flash drives with their cash registers.

The FP began its criminal investigation leading to Thursday’s arrests already in September, conducting around thirty different search raids Tuesday and Wednesday which revealed suspiciously large amounts of cash in various currencies throughout many registers.

State Revenue Service (VID) spokeswoman Dace Pelēkā pointed out that the tax authorities are not trying to shut down the businesses but just trying to prevent losses to the state budget. While the Gan Bei restaurants were forced to close Wednesday for the FP raids, all of the locations were open for business on Thursday, reported LETA.


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