Anti-graft cops swoop on another Rīga transport official

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has detained Aleksandrs Brandavs, a member of the Honor to Serve Riga party, a board member of the Rigas Karte company and an official of Rigas Satiksme municipal transport company, on suspicion of bribery.

KNAB did not name Brandavs but media confirmed his identity.

"On March 5 this year, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau commenced criminal proceedings for alleged criminal offenses committed at public and private joint-stock company Rīgas Karte Ltd, for which liability is provided for in Section 323, Paragraph two and Section 322, Paragraph one of the Criminal Law, ie bribery and mediation in bribery," KNAB said in a statement.

"The materials of the criminal case contain information about the transfer of a bribe to an intermediary for further transfer to officials, so that they can act in the interests of the bribe provider using their official positions. One person was detained in the criminal proceedings," the statement read.

The criminal investigation is "at an early stage," KNAB added, though the information provided makes it clear that several people were involved in the alleged scheme, so the possibility of future arrests is clear, notwithstanding the numerous arrests KNAB has already made at Rīgas satiksme in a series of corruption scandals that look ever more interlinked.

The "e-talons" electronic card  payment system operated by public transport in the Latvian capital uses the technology and infrastructure of Rigas Karte and in the past questions have been raised concerning the cost of using the system compared to comparable systems in other major cities.

According to its website, Rigas Karte (slogan: "smart simple") also provides services to numerous other municipalities in Latvia. The company is 51% owned by none other than Rigas Satiksme and 49% owned by French company Conduent. Indeed the company boasts of "French technology serving Rīga" on its website and it is also a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia.

Last year Rigas Satiksme paid 27 million euros for the services Rigas Karte.

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