Five people, including ex-head of Riga Central Market, face embezzlement charges

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Latvia's anti-graft squad, the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) has asked the prosecutor’s office to charge five persons, including Anatolijs Abramovs, a former head of Riga Central Market.

As well as being the Latvian capital's favorite destination for groceries, the vast Zeppelin hangars and brick warehouses in which the Central Market is housed are among Riga's most famous tourist destinations.

Without naming the suspects, KNAB told LETA news agency on June 6 that the five employees of the municipal company Rigas Centraltirgus (Riga Central Market) were involved in illegal activities from April 2014 to July 2015.

The CEO of the municipal company, owned by the Riga City Council, organized a large embezzlement scheme. One of the company’s employees aided the organized embezzlement activities, and three other employees pocketed large amounts of money while on job to later hand it over to their superiors.

KNAB has asked the prosecutor’s office to charge one official with abuse of office powers for personal gain that has caused grave consequences and organizing large-scale embezzlement.

Another official is facing charges of abuse of office powers that has caused grave consequences and aiding and abetting large-scale embezzlement, and three other persons are facing embezzlement charges.

It's not the first time a central market boss has attracted the attention of KNAB, with the anti-graft force swooping in 2008 to arrest Abromovs' predecessor, Naina Cibulska, on bribery and money laundering charges.

Riga Central Market, established in 1930, has been operating as a municipal joint-stock company since 1995. The company comprises the central market, as well as marketplaces in Riga's Agenskalns and Vidzeme districts. The company's sole owner is Riga City Council.

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