Saeima rejects Harmony qualms over Citadele; KNAB looks into deal

At its regular Thursday plenary session the Saeima rejected an opposition Harmony faction proposal to require the government to halt the Citadele bank sell-off process and submit a comprehensive report to parliament.

Opposition deputies wanted the Cabinet to reveal to Saeima the terms, conditions, persons and amounts involved in the deal to sell state-owned shares of the commercial bank spun off in 2010 from the spectacularly mismanaged failure of Parex Bank.

However, the Corruption Combating and Prevention Bureau (KNAB) has opened an inquiry into the government’s currently emerging deal with US-based Ripplewood Holdings, in light of a complaint submitted by Harmony MP Andrejs Elksniņš requesting an investigation.

Last week the media reported on an ethically dubious personal vacation trip to Georgia taken together with Ripplewood representative Valdis Siksnis by Saeima MP and Unity faction leader Dzintars Zaķis and current EC Commissar-nominee Valdis Dombrovskis (accompanied by his wife), also of Unity. Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis (ZZS) was also briefly together with them on this trip.

On Wednesday Unity’s Ethics committee announced to the media that its members paid for the vacation with their own personal funds, therefore perceiving no possible ethics violations. Moreover, according to Unity’s Ethics committee representative Veiko Spolītis, neither Zaķis nor Dombrovskis held Cabinet positions at the time, and thus could not bear any influence upon the sell-off process.

Dombrovskis on his part called the trip an “unfortunate episode that just lets political opponents exploit it in a speculative manner.”

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