Former Saeima deputy Zakatistovs sentenced for fraud

The Riga Regional Court has sentenced businessman Viesturs Tamužs and former 13th Saeima member Atis Zakatistovs to two years of conditional imprisonment for fraud, the LETA news agency reported November 13.  Both men maintained their innocence.

'Conditional imprisonment' is essetially a suspended sentence.

On Monday, November 13, the Riga District Court found Zakatistovs guilty of a criminal offense under Article 177 of the Criminal Law for the benefit of his limited company "Per capita", and fined SIA "Per capita" 43 times the minimum monthly salary, or 26,660 euros.

The judgment can be appealed within ten days from the date of availability of the full judgment, which is currently set for November 27. Previously, the Riga City Court, Latgale district issued a verdict acquitting both defendants in May of last year. The prosecutor filed a protest against the verdict.

According to the earlier indictment, in 2016, Zakatistovs agreed with Tamužs, chairman of the board of the environmental management company JSC "Eco Baltia", to embezzle funds from "Eco Baltia" subsidiary SIA "Eco Baltia grupa" in order to finance Zakatistovs' party political ambitions.

Zakatistovs, who has dual Canadian and Latvian citizenship, found a degree of fame with the now-defunct KPV party. In an earlier career as an academic, he taught courses on "Business ethics", "Management ethics" and "Argumentation and lobbying".

He was elected to the 13th Saeima in 2018 as part of the populist KPV party, but when that party became riven by internal conflicts he became an independent deputy from 2020 to 2022. Despite the nature of the case against him, he continued to serve on the Saeima's Mandate and Ethics committee, the Budget and Finance (taxation) committee, and the Defense, Internal affairs and Anti-corruption committee. He was also on the Financial Sector Supervision Sub-committee. 

The case against him dates back several years and saw him stripped of his parliamentary immunity so that it could proceed. On June 6, 2019, the Saeima decided to agree to the initiation of criminal prosecution of Zakatistovs. According to the second part of Article 17 of the Saeima Rules of Procedure, a deputy loses the right to participate in the meetings of the Saeima and its committees, as well as other institutions in which the Saeima has elected or approved him, until the court's verdict in the relevant criminal case. Based on the judgment of the Constitutional Court of December 23, 2019, which entered into force on December 27, 2019, his rights were restored in full.

In last year's Saeima elections, Zakatistovs was controversially a candidate for the New Unity party, though he was not a popular choice among voters. Despite starting in 8th place on the Latgale regional candidate list he finished rank bottom in 16th place among New Unity voters


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