Anti-graft force chief denies accusations of invisibility

Jēkabs Straume, chief of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), disagrees with the accusations about the bureau's understated voice while working to prevent bribery, Straume said in an interview with Latvian Television on February 14 evening.

Inese Tauriņa, head of the Latvian transparency organization Delna, had stated earlier that the KNAB's work has been unseen in public lately: “We hear the word “prevention” in the KNAB's name and this word is quite enough to understand the priority of KNAB – to actively be in the public space with the flag that we are against corruption and we will catch everyone who wants to do something like this. But we don't see it.”

Straume disagreed with this, stating in an interview with LTV: “There are different opinions. There was a time when KNAB was very visible with physical searches and, as they said at the time, 'mask shows'. There was frustration about it. When we ended such a culture [..], perhaps achieving even better results, then there is frustration that we are seen little. I guess we need to find some sort of balance between the two things.”

Straume said KNAB's results are improving year-on-year in all areas, including the number of criminal proceedings and persons handed over to prosecution.

Meanwhile, the Corruption Perception Index indicator slightly improved in 2023 and in the long term in Latvia, but the growth rate is still slow and lagging behind the planned pace. The head of KNAB explained that the index is not only related to preventing and combating corruption but also contains other indicators – political culture and equipment of the state, and political will to adopt regulations to prevent corruption. According to him, KNAB's work generally raises this indicator.


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