Politicians prefer keeping cash in their mattresses

A number of Saeima deputies keep large amounts of cash at home rather than risk putting their money into a bank, LTV's evening news show Panorama reported Tuesday. 

Against the backdrop of discussions on whether restrictions should be imposed on the amount of cash people can hold as part of an effort to reduce tax avoidance, it is clear from their compulsory financial declarations that many lawmakers like to keep substantial wads of notes in their matresses, down the back of the sofa or tucked under table legs.

Among them is Ivars Zarins whose 2014 declaration reveals he held €44,000 in cash.

Zarins said his experience on a commission of enquiry into the collapse of Krajbanka persuaded him his money would be safer at home.

"If a person has obtained the money honestly and can prove where it comes from, he can do whatever he wants, even glue it on the wall instead of wallpaper," said Zarins of the 'social democratic' Harmony party.

A similar line was taken by Aivars Meija of the Latvia From The Heart party, who declared cash to the tune of €23,000.

"I've never had any particular faith in the banks, and then there was Parex bank," said said Meija, referring to another failed bank that caused huge losses to the state.

"It is not a particularly large amount for someone engaged in business all their life," he added.

Any attempt to restrict the amount of cash people could hold would be a human rights violation, said Dainis Liepins of the Latvia's Regional Alliance party, who declared €44,000 in cash.

"At the moment we see that Latvia's banking system doesn't work successfully and by keeping funds in banks, your resources go to waste, rather than accumulate," said Liepins.

Harmony deputy Mihails Zemlinskis, a former soccer star, said keeping €25,000 in cas was "more convenient" and also cited a degree of mistrust of banks. 

The current cash record holder is Janis Klauzs of the Greens and Farmers Union. His 2015 declaration shows him to have €67,000 sloshing around somewhere. He was unavailable for comment.

However, holding large cash reserves is not without financial and political risk, as evidenced by a former Prime Minister, Indulis Emsis of the Greens and Farmers Union. He resigned after having an attache case containing a large sum of money stolen while he was in a restaurant.

He initially told police the sum lost was €10,000, then backtracked and said it was just €6,000.

He was walking around with such a large sum in order to buy a tractor, he said in one of the greatest political explanations of all time.

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