LTV's De Facto: MEPs Ušakovs and Ameriks face graft accusations

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Member of the European Parliament and former long-standing Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) announced in mid-March that he has the status of a suspect in a new case. Latvian Television's De Facto has found that Ušakovs and his colleague in Brussels, Andris Ameriks (Honor to Serve Rīga, and former deputy mayor of Rīga under Ušakovs) are both accused of requesting bribes, the broadcast reported on March 19.

In the case, according to De Facto's information, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has also accused Aleksandrs Brandavs, a politician linked to the former transport company Rīga Minibus Transport (RMS) for bribery, and Emīls Jakrins and Leons Bemhens, former representatives of the Rīga public transport company Rīgas Satiksme, of other crimes.

KNAB representative Ineta Cīrule did not comment on the case in detail citing the interests of the pre-trial investigation. KNAB did confirm that a criminal case of 2019 has now been split up in new proceedings. The new criminal case has named five persons as suspects, for accepting bribes, giving bribes, and abuse of position. 

KNAB said that the investigation is done on alleged criminal offenses linked to Rīga City Council's decision of March 2018 to apply the same fare discounts to certain people's groups in the minibus network as in the main public transport network. 

According to De Facto, KNAB suspects that before the city council decision, then-mayor Ušakovs and vice-mayor Ameriks had requested 50% of RMS's compensation for applying the fare discounts. Brandavs, who at the time was the true beneficiary of RMS, allegedly promised 30%. 

Ušakovs, after distributing a release on his status as a suspect, denied to De Facto that he would have been accused of or committed bribery of any kind. 

Ameriks, in a phone conversation to De Facto, said: "On Monday, I received an e-mail that I am a suspect in an episode [..] back in 2017. In content – two cheeks, some private individuals, meet up, lie to each other that all has been arranged with politicians. The politician finds out now and is a suspect. As far as I am concerned, I can do a lie detector or whatever, but I only found out about such a conversation now."

Brandavs and Bemhens did not respond to LTV's calls or messages. Jakrins, on the other hand, confirmed his status in the criminal proceedings. His lawyer stated that Jakrins' accusations are linked to crimes relating to service, but not corruption.

KNAB said that none of the accused are currently in custody and no security measures are applied as of now.

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