Anti-corruption bureau chief under official scrutiny

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Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity) moved over the weekend to establish an official commission to assess the job performance of Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) Chief Jaroslavs Streļčenoks.

According to the government's official herald Latvijas Vestnesis, Security Police Chief Normunds Mežviets will serve as the commission's chairman.

The other members of the commission are advisor to the defense minister Janis Kažociņš, Constitutional Protection Bureau head Janis Maizītis, Chief Prosecutor Ingemars Masaļskis, and the Interior Ministry's Deputy State Secretary Dmitrijs Trofimovs.

In assessing Streļčenoks' performance, the commission must take into consideration the feedback on Streļčenoks' competence given by staff and management at KNAB, the public policy center Providus, the branch of public ethics group "Transparency International - Latvia" ("Delna") and other non-governmental organizations.

Streļčenoks, on the other hand, has been ordered to submit a performance review form by March 24.

Straujuma announced her desire to set up the commission to assess Streļčenoks' performance on January 5 following a meeting with Prosecutor Eriks Kalnmeiers. She said that KNAB involvement in several legal proceedings was indicative of poor management practices. Furthermore, more than a year has passed since the previous commission for the assessment of Streļčenoks' performance, and the new one will have to assess how well the bureau has followed recommendations made by the previous commission, she explained.

Trouble within the ranks of KNAB is nothing new. The agency has been in turmoil almost without a break ever since 2007 when a government attempt to sack the respected then-director Aleksejs Loskutovs backfired and contributed to the collapse of the government of Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma last May described the situation at KNAB as “absurd” and subsequently voiced the opinion that Streļčenoks should consider resigning. He responded by revealing that an investigation was underway into Straujuma's own business dealings concerning an alleged conflict of interest. Last July Straujuma made public her dissatisfaction with the turmoil within the agency's leading ranks after his deputy Juta Strīķe was demoted to a junior administrative position for disciplinary violations.

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