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Revenue service wants minister punished for million-euro memory lapse

The Latvian State Revenue Service (SRS) is requesting permission from the parliament (Saeima) to penalize Health Minister Guntis Belevics of the Greens and Farmers Union political party for failure to register the fact he had taken out a million-euro loan in his official tax declaration.

In a letter to the Saeima Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee, the SRS explains that the minister has failed to submit a declaration for a loan in the amount of €1 million, according to the committee's chairman, Vitalijs Orlovs.

Taking into account that Belevics is also a minister, he will be offered a day on which to explain his memory lapse to the committee, explained Orlovs.

It is likely that the matter will be discussed during the September 30 meeting.

According to the Administrative Code, officials who fail to submit a declaration by the deadline, or violate the submission rules, as well as provide untruthful information in the declaration, can be punished with a fine of up to €350 - admittedly a small price to pay compared to €1 million.

Belevics, is no stranger to controversy having defied Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on several occasions recently, most notably over a potential conflict of interest involving family members in the pharmaceutical industry and on the question of refugees, on which he was one of three ministerial rebels, arguing that Latvia should take in no more than 250 asylum seekers. 

Belevics possible failure to fill in his forms correctly will be of embarrassment to the government as it tries to push its budget through parliament in coming weeks. 

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