Prosecutor on Kariņš' flights: Several officials will be looked at

In examining the alleged unlawful waste of funds related to the special flights of former Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, the prosecutor has found grounds to initiate criminal proceedings, Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns said on April 10.

The prosecution will assess the responsibility of several officials, including Kariņš himself, the prime minister's office and the State Chancellery.  The responsibility of travel agencies involved in the organization of flights will also be assessed.

The Prosecutor General's Office began criminal proceedings in March for alleged squandering of funds and referred it to the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) for investigation.

Stukāns said that hearing the State Audit Office report could lead to an even harsher conclusion from the prosecution's point of view:

"All funds used on charter flights have been unlawfully used."

Stukāns explained that the legal framework in Latvia does not allow the Prime Minister or any other official to use charter flights. The State Audit Office concluded in its audit that the State Chancellery purchased services for the provision of official travel, including special flights, without proper procurement procedures.

The State Chancellery paid travel agencies for the intermediation of the services, which in all cases entered into contracts with one special aviation broker, while the broker paid for the intermediation of the services with special aviation operators or providers.

"It will be assessed whether it was abuse, inaction, ignorance, or anything else," Stukāns said. 

According to the publicly available information, Jānis Patmalnieks (New Unit") was head of Kariņš' office from January 2019 until his election to the Saeima in autumn 2022. From December 1, 2022, until now, the Prime Minister's office is headed by Ieva Zīberga.  Patmalnieks recently left the post of parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Evika Siliņa (New Unity).

The post of Director of the State Chancellery is held by Jānis Citskovskis, whom Siliņa has just suspended from office for a probationary period. Siliņa herself was Kariņš' parliamentary secretary during the previous parliamentary term. 

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