Prison sentence possible for former Latvian central bank president

Prosecutors have asked for a prison sentence for the former president of the Latvian central bank (Bank of Latvia) Ilmārs Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons, the Latvian Television broadcast De Facto reported on May 28.

Prosecutor Ando Skalbe told LTV on Thursday, May 25, that the total recommended punishment for Rimšēvičs is deprivation of liberty for six years, property confiscation, and ban to take certain positions.

Martinsons could face a prison sentence of five years with arrested property seizure, and Martinsons' company MM Investīcijas allegedly used in bribe laundering is charged with a fine of €3 million and also seizure of property.

In February 2018, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) detained Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons. The Prosecutor General's Office charged Rimšēvičs with soliciting bribes and money laundering and Martinsons was accused of aiding him. Both maintain their innocence.

In recent weeks, the accused Rimšēvičs and Martinsons read their testimony aloud in court.

“There is no evidence in this criminal case that I would ever have had any offer of a bribe and that I would have ever accepted the offer of a bribe,” Rimšēvičs said in court.

The most serious charges against Rimšēvičs regard the alleged agreement on the acceptance of a half-million euro bribe from the board member of Trasta Commercial Bank, Viktors Ziemelis, and receiving 250 thousand. In this episode, one of the most important pieces of evidence is the conversations recorded in a sauna. In his testimony, Rimsevics denied the bribery and maintained the earlier version that he had talked about the joint development of real estate owned by businessman Māris Martinsons in Jūrmala.

The testimony of Martinsons in court was relatively short. “I have never transferred money to Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, including in the Taureņi sauna. I don't know whether Viktors Ziemelis has given money, a bribe to Ilmārs Rimšēvičs,” Martinsons said.

For Martinson, who was initially incriminated only to aiding bribery, the accusation has now been modified to giving a bribe.

After hearing the testimony of the accused, prosecutors have not changed their views – in their view, the evidence for bribery is sufficient. The prosecutor, Viorika Jirgena, said that “there is some truth in what they [the accused] said” but, according to the prosecutor, Rimšēvičs and Martinsons have come up with part of the story.

The trial of bribery criminal proceedings at first instance will continue in the autumn, as it is clear that the hearings scheduled for the summer cannot finish the case.

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