De Facto

Krievijas importa aizliegumā atstāj izņēmumus lopkopjiem

De Facto

Zīmju valodā. DeFacto

"Air Kariņš" lieta: drūzma uz avārijas izeju

Recovery of wasted funds to be considered in 'Air Kariņš' case

Last week, a lengthy audit of former Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš' use of special flights during his time as PM was published. The auditor concluded that hundreds of thousands of euros were both unlawfully and uneconomically used. The possibility to get the money back will be assessed in criminal proceedings, Latvian Television's De Facto reported April 14.

The State Audit Office found that 222 thousand euros were spent unlawfully on flights and another 324 thousand euros were spent uneconomically. Whether these amounts remain unchanged and from whom they should be recovered will now depend on the criminal investigations of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) and the Prosecutor's Office.

In March 2022, Krišjānis Kariņš traveled to Paris for the informal meeting of EU leaders - both ways on a special flight. The Audit Office has calculated that by choosing not to wait a couple of hours for the regular commercial flights available on the days of the visit, an extra €34.5 thousand was spent. 

This is just one of the episodes in the State Audit Office's audit opinion on the former Prime Minister's special flights, also known as charters or contract flights. Information obtained by the Audit Office shows that both former Prime Minister Kariņš and the Prime Minister's Office and the State Chancellery under his direct authority were involved in the decision-making process. However, it was not possible to identify the specific persons responsible using audit methods, as the State Audit Office received conflicting information.

From whom the money spent unlawfully or uneconomically should be recovered is now for law enforcement authorities to assess, according to Auditor General Edgars Korčagins: "About five years ago, the Saeima gave the State Audit Office new powers in cases where officials have acted illegally in dealing with public finances, and if these institutions themselves are not in a hurry to recover the funds, then the State Audit Office can intervene on their behalf. And the Audit Office does just that. We have dozens of active cases, and tens of thousands of recoveries from the public budget. In this case, the law also clearly tells us that if criminal proceedings have been initiated, then the law enforcement authorities deal with the recovery issue, and the Audit Office is no longer involved."

A month before the publication of the State Audit Office's opinion, the Prosecutor's Office had already opened criminal proceedings for alleged squandering on a large scale. 

Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns did not rule out the appearance of other articles of the Criminal Law in the case: "As to whether additional qualifications are necessary, unfortunately, it was too early today to draw such conclusions. But it looks like there could be and will be other criminal offenses under the criminal law. (...)"

Stukāns confirmed that at the moment no person has a suspect status, but he is confident that the investigation will not be too long:  "A year is a lot! I would say we are talking about months, but not a year."

Kariņš himself this week continued his usual practice of avoiding comments, instead stressing the importance of the content of the trips.

This week, Kariņš left his post as Foreign Minister, but at least for the time being, he has not returned to the Saeima as a Member of Parliament. In parallel with the criminal proceedings, a service investigation initiated by Prime Minister Evika Siliņa (JV) on the legality of the use of contract flights is ongoing, during which the Director of the State Chancellery, Jānis Citskovskis, was suspended from his duties on the day the audit was made public.

Although he signed the orders to pay for the special flights, Citskovskis claims that the decisions on the use of special flights were taken by Kariņš together with his office.

According to Citskovskis, the State Chancellery had no reason to suspect that the costs might be unjustified or even illegal. "The prime minister makes these considerations and takes a decision. The reasoning is not presented to me. The State Chancellery receives an invoice or there were submissions from [the former head of the Prime Minister's Office] Mr Patmalnieks: accept this - let's use this flight. Without further explanation. So a decision has been taken by a higher official and we have no reason to doubt that the Prime Minister has taken a legal decision," Citskovskis stated.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important