Former Latvian railway chief might face prison sentence

The prosecutor of the Riga Regional Court has asked the former chairman of the board of directors of SJSC Latvijas dzelzceļš (Latvian Railways, LDz) Uģis Magonis and Estonian businessman Oleg Ossinovski, accused of corruption, to be sentenced to four years in prison each, the LETA news agency has found out from the prosecutor's office.

The court also asked Magonis to be sentenced to partial confiscation of his property, and for Ossinovski to be banned from participating in state and local government tenders for three years.

The prosecutor's office has also requested that the €499,500 found during the arrest of the two men be recognized as criminally acquired property and confiscated for the benefit of the state.

The Riga Regional Court is scheduled to continue hearing the case on July 29 and July 31, after hearing the lawyers' defense speeches, LETA was informed.

The Vidzeme District Court had previously acquitted both defendants, but the prosecutor's office appealed against the verdict.

In 2015, the then head of Latvian railways (Latvijas dzelzceļš) Magonis was detained by the anti-graft Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on suspicion of bribery.

According to the accusation, Estonian millionaire Ossinovski allegedly handed over almost half a million euros to Magonis in connection with the purchase of old diesel locomotives from the Ossinovski-owned company Skinest Rail. 

Magonis, in his defense, told the court that he had received the money from Ossinovski not as a bribe or kickback, but as a reward for lobbying on behalf of his Estonian associate to the management of Russian Railways in a private capacity, even though he was chairman of Latvia's state-owned railway company at the time.

The case went to court in 2017, when both Magonis and Osinovsky were charged. Both denied their guilt. Also back then, the prosecutor's office asked the court to impose a 4-year prison sentence on both defendants.

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