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Suspected EU fund fraud in Valka municipality, Latvia

The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), in co-operation with the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), has carried out searches, seizures and interrogations on suspicion of EU fund fraud in Valka municipality of at least EUR 776,000, the KNAB said on November 7.

The KNAB is investigating alleged criminal offenses such as abuse of official position and large-scale fraud.

The information at the disposal of the KNAB shows that two current and one former official of Valka municipality, possibly abusing the position of the service for a selfish purpose, has taken illegal actions together with a representative of a company in order to unlawfully obtain at least EUR 744,000 of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding and EUR 32,000 of Latvian State budget grants for the implementation of the local government project. The project relates to the construction of a production building and related infrastructure.

Under the terms of the project, the industrial building was to be constructed and made publicly available for general use to companies operating in any industrial sector. However, there is a suspicion that the structure was built in the interests of a particular undertaking, in breach of the conditions for the implementation of the project.

Most likely, it is about creating a production facility by renovating a degraded area in the parish of Ērģeme, Latvian Television reports.

Publicly available information shows that three auctions to this rental facility have been held. At the end of October, the municipality confirmed that the lease rights to the production building and territory “Spundenieki” have been acquired by the association “MM” in the Parish of Ērģeme, which includes SIA “Mūrbūdu sidra darītava” and SIA “Mežābols”. 

Currently, four persons involved in criminal proceedings have rights to defense. EPPO's information shows that three persons have been detained in this case.

According to LTV, Vents Armands Krauklis, former chairman of the Valka municipality Council, has been detained in the case but couldn't be contacted.

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