Anti-graft chief Straume gets the nod for second term

Take note – story published 1 year ago

An open copetition for the position of the head of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has come to an end with the existing head of the anti-graft force given the nod to continue in a second term in office.

Jēkabs Straume took over at KNAB in June 2017 after winning the previous competition for this position. Prior to that, he worked for the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIDD) for more than 16 years, including 10 years as Chief of Staff and had previously worked in the State Police Organized Crime and Combating Bureau.

His first term in charge of KNAB has been notably more productive than some of his predecessors, the highlight probably being the conviction and jailing of political kingpin and Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs for large-scale graft, money laundering and abuse of office.

KNAB's other headline case during Straume's first tenure was the sensational arrest in 2018 of central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs. The case against him, which involves allegations of bribery and trading in influence remains ongoing. Rimšēvičs denies all charges.

More recently, a KNAB anti-corruption publicity drive that involved towing a large polystyrene iceberg into the middle of the River Daugava attracted derision and condemnation in equal measure for its high cost and questionable efficacy.

The Government and the Saeima have yet to decide on the confirmation of Jēkabs Straume for a second term, but it would be a surprise if that did not happen fairly quickly.

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