Investment agency chief says minister should apologize for slur

Recent public comments by the Minister of Economy Ralfs Nemiro about alleged involvement of Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) staff in misuse of European Union funds met with strong criticism from Andris Ozols, the longtime head of LIAA on March 22.

Ozols called at a press conference at which he said far from being perpetrators of any fraud, it was LIAA employees who had noticed something suspicious and informed the relevant authorities. They were helping police not as suspects but as witnesses, Ozols insisted.

"I think the Minister should publicly apologize to the LIAA employees whom he has offended," Ozols said,  

On March 19, the State Police detained five people suspected of  scamming over four million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The identities of the detained persons were not released. However, according to informal information at the disposal of Latvian Television (LTV), the case relates to the Ditton company which manufactures driving chains in Daugavpils.

On a TV interview, Nemiro confirmed the involvement of Ditton in the case but also said LIAA staff were involved.

Ilze Šate, Head of the Legal Department at LIAA, pointed out that as the agency is responsible for administering hundreds of projects using EU money, it is far from the first time problems have been detected and that procedures are in place for such circumstances.

“So far, LIAA has been involved with 93 cases under investigation, in co-operation with the police in cases related to possible fraudulent or attempted fraud using European Union funds. In these cases, the collaboration takes the form of providing the necessary information from the project file, and giving evidence of the person who directed the process to better understand the project documentation, better understand the conditions for project implementation and administration, and the applicable laws," said Šate.

 

Ditton denies the connection with EU money scams and the detention of shareholder Drīksne.

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