KNAB: Czech and Polish companies implicated in Rīgas satiksme graft case

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Latvia's Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) started the Rīgas satiksme graft case over bribery involving Polish and Czech companies as well as officials inside the municipal company and the Rīga City Council, KNAB told the press December 13.

The criminal case, according to the bureau, saw representatives of Czech and Polish companies bribe officials in the Rīga City Council and the Rīgas satiksme company. The bribes had been laundered through the officials' associates, also involved in the case. 

In particular, the case revolves around three tenders, worth hundreds of millions, issued by the municipal company from 2013 to 2016:

  • 2016 tender over the delivery of low-deck trams (worth €62,597,477);
  • 2013 tender over the delivery of trollies (worth €131,646,135);
  • A 2013 tender over the delivery of buses (worth €75,808,297).

The KNAB has started a criminal case over bribery, taking bribes, and money laundering.

An announcement by the bureau says that the office started working on the case about a year ago in cooperation with Poland's CBA anti-graft authority as well as other organizations.

KNAB says that the €800,000, which was named as the sum of the bribe by the CBA, is still a provisional estimate and that it may increase.

According to the announcement, the size of the bribes was arranged as a fixed percentage of the tender amounts and that more precise figures are to follow over the course of the investigation. 

Likewise the bureau clarified that there are six suspects in the case and five of them are under arrest. 

High-profile businessman Māris Martinsons is among the people arrested by the KNAB, as well as Igors Volkinšteins, the director of the Department for Infrastructure Maintenance and Development at the Rīga City Council. 

While on December 13 the court ruled to arrest Vladislav Kozák, Sales Area Director at the Czech company Škoda Transportation, along with Aleksandrs Krjačeks, a member of the Honor to Serve Rīga party and the head of the Alkom Trans company.

Krjačeks is also one of the largest donors to the Harmony party ruling in Rīga together with Honor to Serve Rīga. This year, he donated €3,000 to Harmony.

Another suspect, Edgars Teterovskis was put under arrest in absentia as he is reportedly ill, while one Elīna Kokina will not be held behind bars.

Rīgas satiksme board resigns; new tenders halted

Meanwhile all five board members of Rīgas satiksme have handed in their resignations to Rīga Mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony).

The company's board is made up of the now-suspended board chairman Leons Bemhens, acting director of Riga City Council's Transport Department Emīls Jakrins, Jurmala City Council member Larisa Loskutova (Harmony), Baldone Region Council member Andrejs Požarnovs (Honor to Serve Our Latvia), and Inese Švekle (Honor to Serve Riga).

Ušakovs has appointed a temporary board of three members for the company: former Transport Minister Anrijs Matīss, who will be the head of the temporary board, as well as Edmunds Zivtiņš, head of the Rīgas satiksme Transport and Organizational Department, and Janis Ģeduševs, head of the company's security and risk management department.

Ušakovs told LETA that the first task for Matīss would be to halt all public procurement tenders to buy new transport units for Rīgas satiksme, if that is permitted by the law, and organize new tenders.

As reported earlier, Ušakovs suspended the head of Rīgas satiksme for the duration of the investigation. 

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