KNAB pushes for prosecution of former tax officials

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National anti-corruption agency the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) said March 22 it has asked the Prosecutor's Office to launch prosecutions against two former officials of the State Revenue Service, Latvia's tax collection body.

According to KNAB, one of the two is suspected of "demanding a bribe from a group of persons by prior agreement" while the other is suspected of "supporting the above-mentioned criminal offense and forgery." 

The evidence obtained in the KNAB pre-trial investigation shows that former state officials, acting in a group after a prior agreement, unjustifiably initiated criminal proceedings against an unnamed company and then repeatedly contacted the owner of the business and demanded a bribe of 100,000 thousand euros to drop the action.

Ineta Cīrule, deputy head of KNAB's investigative department said:

"During the pre-trial investigation, clear evidence was obtained that it was a well-developed and well-thought-out scheme to demand a bribe from the businessman. If an entrepreneur is asked for unreasonable payments, or ambiguous offers are made – these are signals that the entrepreneur should immediately contact KNAB. This is not the legal act of an official, it is corruption!"

KNAB started the criminal proceedings on June 2, 2022, and on March 20, 2023 sent its materials to the Prosecutor's Office for Investigation of Criminal Offenses in the Service of State Institutions. Now the Prosecutor's Office must make the decision on whether to bring charges.

According to LTV, the case is the one raised by businessman Andris Ramoliņš who went public with accusations that tax officials were attempting to extort bribes from him and his successful woodworking company. His company was founded in 1994, and in 2021 recorded a profit of more than 9 million euros.

 

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