KNAB on March 16 conduced 14 court-sanctioned searches in relation a EUR 220 million food procurement tender by the State Centre for Defense Logistics and Procurement (VALIC) for the National Armed Forces, LETA learned from KNAB.
A criminal case was started on March 3 in order to detect whether there have been crimes committed during the procurement procedures in the time period from October 18, 2021, until January 10, 2023.
"The recent geopolitical events in a cruel and direct way demonstrate the destroying impact of the corruption on the defense sector. Suspicions or "red flags" about possible corruption in the defense sector require special attention, and this is what KNAB is doing in the case of the food procurement tender," said KNAB chief Jekabs Straume.
KNAB continues pre-trial investigation and collection of evidence.
As reported, the Defense Ministry has launched an official probe into a EUR 220 million food procurement tender for the National Armed Forces. The ministry also has informed KNAB and the Prosecutor General's Office on the probe.
Earlier this week a vote of no confidence was held in the Saeima, directed at Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece (National Alliance). She comfortably won the vote, arguing that the contract had been signed under her predecessor, Artis Pabriks (For Development/For!) and she had in fact been instrumental in investigating and exposing the alleged wrongdoing.
It has also been reported that Zitari LZ, a catering company based in Roja, western Latvia, had been awarded a EUR 220 million contract to supply food to the National Armed Forces (NBS) for the next five years, according to information available from the public procurement database.
Other companies competing for the five-year contract included Lanekss, Rezeknes Galas Kombinats, Sanitex, as well as partnership comprising Latvijas Tirgotaju Savieniba, Lats Veikali, Santaro, Beatus, Sulema, Rijupe, Eirospars, IG Centrs, Elli V and ZS Kumelites.
Zitari LZ won the competition with its bid scoring the maximum number of points.
According to information from Firmas.lv, Zitari LZ, established 30 years ago, belongs to Laura Zeltina, who also chairs the company's board, and lawyer Modris Supe.
Information published on the internet website of KNAB suggests that Supe in May 2022 donated EUR 2,500 to the party For Latvia's Development, and also EUR 2,000 in 2021. In the time period between 2017 and 2015, he donated EUR 10,000 to the Honor to Serve Rīga party.
In 2021, Zitari LZ turned over EUR 562,498 and generated EUR 141,546 in profit. The company operates four dining rooms in Talsi and Riga, a bistro in Roja, and a cafe and pizzeria in Ventspils.