Unity denies allegations of tax evasion

An envelope wage scandal in the prime minister's party Unity has been made public by former party office employee Normunds Orleāns. The political force calls this a lie. The allegations will still be assessed by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), Latvian Television reported on March 11.

Normunds Orleāns, former office head at Unity, said off-the-books salaries were paid to him and at least ten other party office employees. The practice began around 2017, when the party was in financial straits. Orleans is said to have objected, including addressing several of the party's top politicians, but the results have not followed, his legal representative, Kārlis Orleāns, said in a phone interview.

“There has been a whole series of written information originally to Krišjānis Kariņš, because now he is the head of New Unity, he has promised to solve it several times. Nothing has happened, and then there are conversations with [Arvils] Ašeradens that things will be resolved as well. But now what does solved mean? It's just being dragged out,“ said Kārlis Orleāns.

At the time when, according to Orleāns, envelope wages were paid at Unity's office, the party's general secretary was Artis Kampars. When asked if he paid envelope wages or not, Kampars replied: “Well, of course not. This is utter nonsense as there … any such assumptions are not true.”

The Saeima opposition faction United List has requested the resignation of Finance Minister Arvils Ašeradens, who is also the head of Unity. The Green and Farmers Union and the Progressives of the coalition have pledged to await conclusions from the investigating authorities ahead of further steps.

The board of Unity has decided to exclude Normunds Orleāns who raised the alarm about envelope wages in Unity from the party and will also address him legally for damaging the party's reputation, Arvils Ašeradens told Latvian Radio. 

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