Saeima "Oligarch conversations" commission winds up with warning

Corruption is in full force in Latvia and groups with limited membership pursuing their own economic interests often call the tune, said Inguna Sudraba (For Latvia from the Heart party), the chairwoman of the ad hoc parliamentary committee probing the so-called "oligarch affair".

When presenting to the parliament the overview of the committee's final report, Sudraba said there was "a full-cycle system" at work in Latvia, protecting its own and pushing for the results to advance own causes. The mass media are being used to create an illusion that democracy exists or to make noise to divert public attention away from other things.

In this system, "a cog protects other cogs" and it is vain to hope that the Latvian anti-corruption authority would help break down the system, Sudraba said,

As reported, the Latvian ad hoc parliamentary committee probing the so-called oligarch affair last week adopted its final report. The committee said in its report that it had spotted signs suggesting state capture but would not identify anyone by name.

Speaking on television before the adoption of the final report, the committee chair said the report would not contain any names because the criminal investigation of the oligarch affair had ended without pressing changes against anyone and the parliamentary committee did not have a mandate to accuse anyone where the criminal investigators had failed to do so.

In July 2017 the Latvian parliament set up the ad hoc committee to probe the so-called oligarch affair to look for signs of state capture and to examine the quality of pre-trial investigation. Sudraba was elected as the committee chairwoman despite the fact that she had been mentioned in the oligarch conversations that the committee was supposed to probe.

The oligarch conversations are a series of transcripts of high-ranking politicians and businessmen's conversations at Ridzene hotel in Riga which have been published by the Ir magazine. Those records were one of the main pieces of evidence in a 2011 criminal case on bribery, money laundering, abuse of office and other crimes, implicating a number of high-ranking politicians and public figures, including Andris Skele, Aivars Lembergs, Ainars Slesers and others.

The Corruption Prevention and Combatting Bureau (KNAB) investigated the case for several years, but eventually concluded that the secretly-recorded conversations did not constitute compelling evidence, therefore the criminal case was closed.

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